Shirin Sahani (Afghanistan)

Shirin Sahani (Omid Learning Center, Afghanistan): Shirin described herself as a “cultural nomad,” having been born in India and brought up in Iran, as well as a consummate traveler. Before pursuing a graduate degree, Shirin developed and implemented marketing communications strategies for companies in the technology, industrial and medical markets. After this exposure to the corporate sector, Shirin took her skills to the international arena, more specifically civil society organizations working on women’s social and political development in the Middle East and Asia. At the time of her fellowship, Shirin was pursuing a graduate degree at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

Finally on the Way, Inshallah

14 Jun

After some initial programmatic hitches, much coordination, loads of family discussion and debates, one flight cancellation and a 21-hour plane trip to India, I’m finally on my way to Afghanistan.

I’m excited to begin work and meet new friends in Afghanistan that I’ve gotten to know in the course of coordinating my trip, accomodation and internship. I’m amazed at the generosity and kindness that perfect strangers and friends of friends of friends have shown me. Most Afghans that I’ve met have also been extremely helpful and bend over backwards even more when I speak to them in Farsi, a language that is a close relative of Dari, one of the two languages spoken in Afghanistan. As a result, I’ve gotten my visa quickly and without any hassles and a business class ticket from Delhi to Kabul for the price of an economy class ticket.

But sitting in an air-conditioned room in India, watching cable TV and surrounded by normal every-day amenities one can imagine, I’m getting nervous about the little things that I’ve always taken for granted. Having lived in Iran for 13 years, I’m used to keeping my head and body covered. However, the restrictions on female activity and movement of foreigners will be a new experience for me.

Stepping outside of the house and for that matter doing much of anything without male accompaniment seems ill-advised in Afghanistan, and given governmental restrictions on the movements of foreigners, I’m worried not only about my security but also about my sanity.

However, most of all I’m worried about being effective. I know Sadiqa is extremely busy and the first weeks will be challenging on us both as we figure out the pace and rhythm of a work schedule and I learn to navigate my life in Afghanistan.

Having pre-planned as much as possible, I have decided to leave the rest to fate and have taken to ending my sentences on getting to Afghanistan with the vague disclaimer, Inshallah (God Willing). So far God and Fate seem to be on my side.

Posted By Shirin Sahani (Afghanistan)

Posted Jun 14th, 2005

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