How you can join in this journey to Afghanistan

Greetings to all wherever you are! As a ‘pilgrim and storyteller’ for the past ten years, I would like to invite you along, via this blog, on this next journey of peacemaking together. 

This Sunday, March 13, I will leave Sydney and head to Afghanistan with my partner, Martin, to take part in a delegation hosted by a wonderful group of Afghan students.

I received the invitation, out of the blue, a few weeks ago – it was certainly not on my list of things to do for 2011! But the invitation presented a unique opportunity to go to Afghanistan and do what I have done in other places of war: to see for myself, listen to the people (not just the politicians!) and bring stories back to you.

The group who issued the invitation is called the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers http://ourjourneytosmile.com/blog/, a wonderful group of Afghan students who (inspired by youth movements in Egypt etc) are exploring nonviolent, non-military solutions to the situation there, in the spirit of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. On March 19, to mark the start of spring, we will witness the launch of their new campaign of nonviolence which will include an inter-ethnic procession, walking arm-in-arm in downtown Kabul, a tree-planting ceremony and candlelight vigil(for more info see http://www.livewithoutwars.org/

The young people have invited foreigners to be present to witness and show solidarity to their campaign launch, and they will also hold Skype conversations with young people around the world, including Australia on March 20, see www.thepeoplesjourney.org

We’ll be part of an international delegation numbering about 25 people, coordinated by Chicago-based Voices for Creative Nonviolence http://vcnv.org/frontpage2

During the delegation we will hang out with the young people, meet with locals, visit projects, consult with community groups and Non Government Organisations, and build relationships.

My aim is to see and to hear. To bear witness, listen and be in solidarity with the Afghan people, report back, tell their stories and help their voice to be heard.

Yes, it’s very exciting, and you can be part of this journey by:

1. Receiving our stories and updates, and forward them on to interested people in your networks. Or they can join the list by sending an email to:

thepilgrim-subscribe@yahoogroups.com with subscribe in the subject line. And promoting this blog, www.pilgriminkabul.wordpress.com, amongst your friends and networks

2. If you are on Facebook or twitter (I just joined the twitterati as donnamulhearn), become my friend and re-post or re-tweet my reports. If you are a blogger, you can link to this blog, or paraphrase it for your readers.

3. Take part in the global day of listening skype-a-thon, which will link ordinary people from Afghanistan and Iraq to you in the west – a chance to listen, ask questions and get to know one another. For further info see http://www.thepeoplesjourney.org/ This is a great activity for high school students!

4. Use our reports as catalysts for conversations with your friends and colleagues, to present a different view about solutions for Afghanistan.  

5. Invite Martin and I to speak at your group when we return.

6. Media contacts: I will be writing media releases, so if you have contacts with journalists or particular media outlets, please forward our media releases and/or suggest a story with us as Australian ‘eye-witnesses’. Or contact your favourite radio program, suggest an interview with us and pass on my details. Program websites generally have a page where you can leave a comment or make a suggestion.

7. Sponsorship: Yes, it’s financially difficult for Martin and I to pay for this trip, so any financial assistance would be greatly appreciated. Electronic transfers can be made to:

Commonwealth Bank a/c name: Donna Mulhearn

BSB: 062202   a/c number 1048 1871 or by cheque, Many thanks! 

7. Prayer: we are aware of the safety and security risks ahead, so if you’re the praying type, please remember us, and our families, during the two weeks we are there from March 13 to 28, and remember all involved in this conflict.

Updates from now on will be on Facebook, twitter, my Pilgrim e-list, and on this blog.

Thanks for your support – we’re very excited to have this opportunity to meet and learn from the Afghan people and we’re glad you can be part of it!

Your pilgrim

Donna 

PS: Yes, I did ask permission from my Mum to go to Afghanistan. I was a bit tricky in my tactics, but I got the okay!

PPS: “…it’s the answer to every Afghan mother’s prayer…”  Hakim in Afghanistan referring to the nonviolent options championed by the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers.

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