Gentle isn’t perhaps the adjective that would immediately spring to mind when you think of the Afghan people. However with so much bad news coming out of Afghanistan, I felt compelled to write about an encounter I’ve just had with a sweet, gentle and hospitable group of people. They’re called Hazaras and they live in the mountainous region of Central Afghanistan, known as the Hazarajat.

The Hazaras - a kind and gentle people

The Hazaras - a kind and gentle people

I had the privilege of traveling to Bamyan, the largest town in the Hazarajat, cradeled between the parallel mountain ranges of the Hindu Kush and Koshi-i-Baba. At an altitude of nearly 9,000 feet, I joined a team distributing aid to more than 500 of the poorest of the poor families, living in the most difficult of conditions. There I encountered a sweet, gentle and amazingly hospitable group of people. Away from the fortified compounds and convoys that is the tragic hallmark of so many parts of the country, the dearth of weapons around Bamyan was stark. As we made our way to the caves where this community lives, our team was warmly welcomed into the village as friends – a group of people so grateful not to have been forgotten.

Grateful not to be forgotten - help for Hazaras

Grateful not to be forgotten - help for Hazaras

Despite the rugged beauty of the place, life is tough for the Hazaras. The countryside is harsh and unforgiving and they have often been persecuted through their two thousand year history. For decades Bamyan was the centre of conflict between the Taliban and anti-Taliban forces, many Hazaras being caught in the cross-fire and blatantly persecuted. Not only were many killed, in 2001 the Taliban tried to destroy their rich cultural history, by blowing up three colossal statues of the Buddah from the 1st Century, on the grounds that they were an affront to Islam.

Empty cave where a statue of Buddah once stood

Empty cave where a statue of Buddah once stood

So for all this, the Hazara have much to be bitter and vengeful about. And yet all they want is peace and an opportunity for their children… both boys and girls, equally, to have an opportunity to be educated. May their desire be granted!

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2 Comments

  1. First of all many thanks for speaking out nice words for Hazara people; one of the peace loving nations of the world. Unfortunately only nice words and well wishes may not help us develop. We want and hope that all peace loving people of world will advocate on behalf of us to rightfully have peace and security in our lives. We will need all sorts of assistance to ensure that our enemies in the country do not risk our lives. It is helpful as well as important that Hazara’s peace loving nature and indigence are reported to the people of world who care about peace, love, humanity and future generations of the cultured nations.
    I appreciate the nice words of the writer who looks to be greatly touched by the beautiful and peace loving nature of Hazaras, but I would be grateful to him if he continues to write about how discriminative aid assistance has been in the country after arrival of international community. Despite great needs much less assistance are channeled to Hazarajat. Please help us in having our rightful share of the world assistance and please help us in stopping unjust distribution of aid in the country.

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