32 years old
I’ve been in Greece with my family for two years. I visited the Museum of the Acropolis once and I liked being able to see in person all the things I had learned in Afghanistan about ancient Greek history and civilization. When they informed me about the programme at the National Museum of Contemporary, I thought it’d be great to be a part of it, since I saw it as a chance to learn new things.
At the Museum1 we saw an artwork that was called Swedish Flying Carpet2, which I thought represented the marriage of two civilizations, Asian and European. We saw another artwork with a loom3. I grew up in a village in Afghanistan and I used to see how it was used in the old days. I remember our mothers and grandmothers sitting at the loom, weaving. The situation in the country was better back then because things were safe, and I have good memories of those days. But now all that’s just a memory because sadly, because of the war, the situation in Afghanistan has completely changed.
It’s really hard to be young and not able to find a safe place to live in your country. I realize that nowadays a lot of people from other countries and not just Afghanistan are facing the same problem. But bear in mind, I was two years old when the war started in my country and as I grew up, I saw one war after another break out and the country reduced to rubble. It’s painful to see the civilian population suffering, on the one hand, and on the other, the bombs that keep falling. We used to hope that the war would end one day, but that never happened. That’s why we were forced to leave and become refugees and how we wound up here.
Afghanistan is considered a rich country. It has a great number of mines that could provide a decent life for its citizens. But unfortunately, the war has brought us to where we are today. I agree with Yaser4 when he says that if there were peace and safety in our countries, if we had the same opportunities as citizens in European countries do, we, too, could make progress. But perhaps it’s hard for someone who hasn’t been through what we’ve been through to understand what we’re talking about. I mean, someone who hasn’t lived in Afghanistan can’t really grasp what it means to leave your house for a short walk and not be sure you’ll come back alive. People take these things for granted here, which is why they can’t appreciate them in the way we do. It’s the same reason they can’t appreciate the freedom they have as citizens and the services the state provides.
However, I don’t want to be discussing the war all the time and the consequences it’s had on people’s lives. It gets to me when I do, and I come back home upset.
The artwork with the loom is about dreams, which the artist has embroidered on the blanket. I think about my two children and the dreams I hope they have when they sleep at night. More than anything else, I hope that they can sleep peacefully, go to school and move on with their lives, and not think about the problems that weigh on my mind. I also hope that in their sleep, a light blanket with cheerful colours covers them and they dream of a bright and hopeful future.
We hope that one day things will change in Afghanistan and we’ll see peace and safety in the country. Until then, I’ll try and make a life for me and my family, in a quiet country far from wars and bomb attacks.
1 Refers to the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens.
2 Refers to Kostis Velonis’ Swedish Flying Carpet, 2001.
3 Refers to Janine Antoni’s Slumber, 1994.
4 Yaser, who’s 27 years old and from Syria, also took part in the programme.