On the occasion of what is currently happening in Afghanistan, we want to bring to attention one of the stories on the StoryAP portal, the story of Shikhali Mirzai.
I met the author personally in France, thanks to a European project, and it was a truly memorable meeting for me. I was struck by the energy, confidence and optimism of this young man, by his determination to improve his life and that of many other migrants like him. This short story is a kind of photonarrative, which tells the epic of the journey that Shikali (invalid due to the explosion of a bomb in Afghanistan) had to make on foot through Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Greece, Italy to get to France. . A journey that lasted 10 months, overcoming challenges that make you shiver. The civil society organizations and volunteers who support migrants were the lifeline at various stages of his journey.
I have known Shikali personally, I said, and thinking about his contagious optimism, his determination towards good, as well as the good people he met along his path, is the only thing that relieves me in this distressing moment, thinking about what is happening in Afghanistan now.
So here is the fateful question, as usual in this StoryAP column: what can we learn from this story?
Before answering, I would like to report the latest article written by Gino Strada published in “La Stampa”, shortly before his death, and the return of the Taliban to Kabul. Gino tells: “I lived in Afghanistan for a total of 7 years: I saw the number of injured and violence increase, while the country was progressively devoured by insecurity and corruption. We said 20 years ago that this war would be a disaster for everyone. Today the outcome of that attack is under our eyes: a failure from every point of view. In addition to the 241,000 victims and the 5 million displaced people, including internally and asylum seekers, Afghanistan today is a country that is about to fall into civil war again, the Taliban are stronger than before, the international troops have been defeated and their presence and authority in the area is even weaker than in 2001. And above all it is a destroyed country, from which those who can try to escape even if they know they will have to suffer hell to get to Europe. And just in these days some European countries are contesting the decision of the European Commission to stop the repatriation of Afghan refugees in a country on fire.
To finance all this, the United States spent a total of over 2 trillion dollars, Italy 8.5 billion euros. The big arms industries thank them: in the end they are the only ones to draw a positive balance from this war. If that river of money had gone to Afghanistan, the country would now be a great Switzerland. Moreover, in the end, perhaps Westerners would have managed to have some control over it, while now they are forced to flee with their tails between their legs. There are people in that destroyed country still trying to protect essential rights. For example, the hospitals and the staff of Emergency – full of wounded – continue to work in the midst of the fighting, also running risks for their own safety: I cannot write about Afghanistan without thinking first of all of them and the Afghans who are suffering. right now, real war heroes”. (la Stampa, August 13, 2021, “So I saw Kabul die”).
It seemed to me an important article, both because it is a message left by this great man at this important historical moment, and because it helps us to place what is happening in a broader perspective..
I return to the question: what have I learned from the story of Shikali Mirzai, and from what Gino Strada tells us, in a dynamic between micro-history and macro-history?
- That the desire for happiness and good for oneself and others, and the determination to find ways to achieve this goal, is an immense potential that each of us can activate, no matter what sufferings and challenges life has put you in. front; and that’s what really gives meaning to life.
- That war is almost never the answer, and often it is just something that generates more war.
- That only civil society, people like Shikali, like Afghan women fighting for equality, volunteers and people working for change at all levels, will be able to bring about profound change in Afghanistan, as everywhere of the world.
Grazie Shikali, e grazie Gino.