2012 Eurovision winner Loreen has been to Afghanistan and we have the story behind the photographs. The first thing people say is “Why is she there?”. Loreen has “long been committed against injustice and for (the pursuit) of human rights. On her own initiative, she has teamed up with the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, where she is particularly interested in children’s education.”
Loreen arrived in Kabul last Wednesday September 4th. For many of her young followers on social media channels, they were confused and did not understand why she was there or where Kabul is? The overwhelming result from Loreen’s visit to war-torn Afghanistan, will be to make younger people explore the political and human situation that is taking place in that part of the world TODAY.
First stop was the top of Teve Mountain that overlooks the city of Kabul. As Loreen posted “On The Top Of Teve mountain looking down what’s left of Kabul. Still amazing”. The purpose of Loreen’s visit is to raise awareness of the plight of the local population. Education in Afghanistan is on a very small-scale and the literacy rates are among the lowest in the world. It is almost poetic that Loreen posted this picture with the heading “Kite Flying in Kabul”
You can just make out Loreen flying a kite on the rooftops below. This is a subtle reference to the wonderful book “The Kite Runner” by Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini. It tells the story of a boy called Amir who lives in the Wazir Akbar Khan district of Kabul. His best friend is Hassan, the son of his father’s young “Hazara” servant. The story is set against the many historical events in Afghanistan’s history – from the fall of the Afghanistan’s monarchy through the Soviet military intervention, the exodus of refugees to Pakistan and the United States, and the rise of the Taliban regime. Truly a wonderful book. You should read it – and then look at the stunning movie.
Life and services in Kabul/Afghanistan are poor and even Eurovision winners live the simple life while there. Bread and water for breakfast is typical and that is what Loreen experienced like many children do everyday there. “Afghanistankommittén” has coordinated education initiatives and have over 125,000 students in Afghanistan attending schools. Over half of these students are girls, yet the overwhelming fact remains that over half of all school-age children, do NOT attend school in the country.
While in Kabul Loreen took a UN flight to the “Worsaj Valley” in the north of the country. The girls attending school in the Worsaj are the first generation of young women in this valley to have an education. In remote areas like Worsaj, many children are denied an education because it is too far for them to walk to the nearest primary school. When you see the harsh countryside you can see why this is a problem.
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, has been following Loreen’s trip in Afghanistan. He took to twitter to commend her and urge people to become engaged in the situation. Many people may be cynical of Loreen’s intentions and claim that her trip was attention seeking – like they did when we first published her potential trip to Afghanistan last month – see here – however judging by the thousands of teenagers now looking to see first where Afghanistan is and then researching the history, problems and solutions to the crisis there – well that is an admirable quest in my book. If people feel the need to pass comment on Loreen’s attempts to highlight the right and need for education for children – well that truly says more about them.
If you feel like you want to learn more about the situation in Afghanistan and the challenges facing the people there, then a good starting point would be Svenska AfghanistanKommitten. Here is their Website and their Twitter that Loreen was working with on her trip. They have organised amazing relief operations in the country.
Running the risk of sounding cliché – I have a new-found respect for Loreen and what she is trying to do with “Her Warriors and Musical Movement”. What is the point of having fame and countless followers, if you don’t have something to say of note from time to time that can make people believe that “We Have The Power” to change anything we want.
Author/Website co-founder and Editor in Chief Garrett Mulhall
Source – SAK Sweden, Loreen Facebook, Twitter and Eurovision Ireland