Ahmad Wali Karimi, a young leader of Mazar-e-Sharif, explains how he has become more active in his community:
‘I initially came to the public library in Mazar to study, but heard music from a container situated nearby. I love music, so went to the container to watch a group of young people playing. I was intrigued, so asked the staff about their activities, which they explained extended well beyond music.
‘In the course of our discussions, I shared with them some of my personal problems, and they introduced me to a psychiatrist in Kabul with whom I’ve been in contact for a while and who helps me to find how to deal with my issues.
‘This has in turn enabled me see how I could do something for the benefit of my community. For the past 3 months I have trained as a Youth Leader, along with 40 other young women and men across the country, with support from Ipso.
‘My first initiative in Mazar-e-Sharif focused on the problem of domestic violence, and we created a ‘safe space’ for women. I had long wondered why young Afghan women were unable, after their graduation, to find appropriate or fulfilling jobs. So we engaged four young women to establish and manage as safe space as a ‘café’. The husband of one was a drug addict, so she needed to work to provide for her family – not an unusual challenge for Afghan families these days…
‘Since starting the cafe, along with 7 others from my community, we have been able to find fulfilling employment for 80 other young women within other organisations, while working together to build our collective capacity.
‘It is only through our collective energy and a sense of responsibility that young Afghans like myself will bring about positive change in our communities’.