Afghanistan is a mystery to many of us. Amongst war-torn countries, there is still much kindness and compassion. The beauty of Band-e-Amir Lake shown here by Muzafar Ali captures what is often hidden from us.
Present-Day Affection & Altruism
More than a million Afghan children have books in their hands in a country where not many know how to read. Afghanistan has a rich oral tradition as does any country and culture. Hoopoe Books, an imprint of The Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge, is a nonprofit dedicated to serving these million children and millions more through “Books for Afghanistan.”
I happened upon an article in The Washington Post entitled “Afghan Students Learn to Read with Folk Tales.” Any time folktales are used to further educate always grab my attention, especially as I have been involved with the art of storytelling for 24 years now.
Past Affection & Altruism (Folktale)
Although not from the “Books for Afghanistan” collection, the following folktale summary has a couple intriguing bits of kindness–
Hired Hands, found in “Mightier than the Sword: World Folktales for Strong Boys” by Jane Yolen
Two orphaned brothers, Abdul and Abudullah, are down to their last bits of food. The oldest one, Abdul, offers to find work and send money to Abdullah and survive another season. Abdul makes a deal with a farmer to work while the light is up and onward to the sound of the cuckoo. The farmer then adds that if Abdul becomes angry, a large sum of money would be required. Though, if the farmer becomes mad, then Abdul receives a large sum. Abdul works hard throughout the day and wants to rest at night. The farmer insists there is still light at night because of the moon. Abdul stays calm and works all night. When the sun rises, Abdul is so tired that he cannot help but fall asleep. The farmer says Abdul is not a hard worker. Abdul becomes angry and must owe the large sum of money or be forced to work for the farmer for seven years. Abdullah learns of the farmer’s deception and makes his own deal with the farmer. However, Abdullah purposely takes so long in waking up and getting ready for the day that the farmer is anxious for work to be done. One thing after another delays the work in being done. Abdullah knowingly misinterprets some of the demands of the farmer until the farmer becomes angry. Abdullah insists that the contracts with all other farmhands be null and void. The farmer is so anxious to be rid of Abdullah that he agrees.
Interesting Notes on Kindness:
- Abdul seeks out work mainly to help his younger brother, Abdullah
- Calmness, a usual show of kindness, is valued above all else by the farmer
- Abdul is typically kind yet even a hard-worker and focused individual can have moments of anger
- Abdullah was not bound by his older brother’s contract with the farmer yet out of kindness wished to free his brother
- Abdullah essentially “kills with kindness” by remaining calm and doing all that was promised even if it was intentionally misinterpreted
- The Farmhands, once freed from their contracts, returned to work for the farmer for now the farmer was kind and fair
- Civility/Kindness is a win for everyone
What stories of kindness do you know associated with Afghanistan? Anywhere in the world – past or present? Please share in the comments…or anything on your mind.
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