Peace Day 2009: A child’s dream
20 September 2009 - UNAMA press officer in the North of Afghanistan Alexandre Brecher-Dolivet, offers a personal reflection on peace efforts in the country.
In one of the most crucial periods for the future of Afghanistan, the Peace day campaign has been celebrated in the North, as in every region of the country.
A few weeks after the presidential and provincial council elections, this campaign focused all the efforts of the Afghan people, gathered around the slogan: “What are you doing for Peace?”
Beautiful responses to this simple question have bloomed everywhere in the North, from Maimana to Mazar-i-Sharif, from Aqcha to Sar-i-Pul, from Samanghan to Sosmaqala.
Kite flying, drawing and writing contests, celebrations with orphans, theatre plays, discussions on peace, dance, music, joy, hope and happiness were the milestones of this campaign.
For the Afghans who carry with them the shifting past of their country, three decades of war, pain and despair, the Peace Day 2009 campaign has been one of these rare moments dedicated to a brighter future, where everything seemed possible and reachable.
“Do you know what peace means?” asked a teacher to his students during the launching of a drawing contest, at the Wazir Akbar Khan School in Mazar-i-Sharif.
Nobody responded, so the teacher said: “Peace is the absence of war.”
Then smiles appeared on all the young faces.
“Yes, the absence of war is possible,” resumed the teacher. “Peace is possible if you all work together in order to reach it. So how can we bring peace in Afghanistan?”
Then all the students started their drawing contest.
The winning drawing represented schoolchildren, boys and girls, in front of their school.
In the blue coloured sky, with white peace doves flying high, was written the message: “We, the children of Afghanistan, would like peace forever”.
A simple and sincere child’s dream.
On 14 September, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) called for a general ceasefire on 21 September, the International Day of Peace, and also the second day of Eid, the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan.
A few days later, the Government of Afghanistan asked all Afghan forces to hold defensive positions, and open fire only if attacked.
And in the following days, others claimed they would respect a general ceasefire on Peace Day.
The benefits of this major achievement are countless: a new humanitarian space will be opened in the most difficult areas of Afghanistan, aid and health care will be provided to millions of people in need, and, most importantly, lives will be saved.
Sometimes a child’s dream can become a reality, at least for one day.
Sometimes, everything is possible.
As the Peace Day campaign reaches its end, another period of celebration opens in Afghanistan, the Eid period.
During these four days, Afghans will have the opportunity to visit their families, and to celebrate together the end of Ramadan.
And along the streets of Mazar, in Aqcha and in Sosmaqala, all across Afghanistan and everywhere in the world, children will continue to fly kites, to draw, to sing, to dance and to dream about their future… Obviously in Peace.
By Alexandre Brecher-Dolivet, UNAMA