A completely landlocked country in south central Asia, Afghanistan has a population of almost 30 million people. The country has suffered much political and economic instability throughout its history, including many decades of civil war and ruling by the Taliban, a group that while in power imposed strict Islamic rule over its citizens. High levels of violence still exists among communities and households, between neighbors, and toward women and children, with violence against women in particular being an important focus over the past few decades. Progress around the matter, however, has been slow, despite the enactment of a landmark law for the elimination of violence against women and children. Communities in Afghanistan also deal with less educational opportunities in disadvantaged neighborhoods and harmful working conditions in certain fields of work, and while the strength and importance of family and tribal affiliations in Afghanistan can be a source of stability, they can also lead to disputes and conflict.
After certified trainers Swati Bhatt and Agyatmitra Shunya facilitated a training in Delhi, India, in January 2019, local peace builders planned to bring Play for Peace to Afghanistan. After intense and indefatigable efforts to introduce Play for Peace concepts there, in February 2019 trainer Shafi Karimi and fellow participants held the first consultation meeting on how to utilize Play for Peace’s methods and practices in the Afghanistan community. In March 2019, the Omid Club was established informally.
Currently, the Omid Club is working to create community engagement and participation, spread a culture of peace, and promote coexistence between and within local communities. The group hopes to bring laughter and joy to Afghan children who have suffered decades of war, violence, and conflict. They are focusing on helping these children cope with social disputes and inter-ethnic tensions, as well as strengthening community participation and inclusion.
"Through Play for Peace, children in my community are joyfully participating, putting misunderstandings and disagreements behind in order to start a new life filled with peace."
Play for Peace Participant
Guzara District, Herat Province
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected countless communities of people in countries across the world, and Afghanistan’s Herat Province is no different. In a place where many live hand to mouth, lockdowns have left people without any source of income for food, basic necessities, or places to live.
In March 2019, Play for Peace initiated its first club in Afghanistan. For one child living there, being able to spread joy and hope in her community through cooperative games and activities has been a dream come true.
Serious conflicts have arisen from the continuous battle for peace and freedom in Afghanistan. In the midst of these conflicts, Shafi Karimi, a Play for Peace trainer there, has introduced Play for Peace methods and goals in order to create positive change in his community.