Feb 26, 2008

The more I learn, the more I realize I know nothing

This photostory was already published in NATO website and you can see this text alongside with the fowling text there.

When I was very young I used to write a bit about the world – my world and the world around me. Then, with access to new technology and the Internet, I started to learn about many new things.
Soon, I remember hearing the word ‘blog’ being used in my English class. I found the first Farsi blog service. And an old friend of mine showed me his blog. It made a big impression on me. By 2004, I was running my own satire and cartoon magazine. But it was shut down by fundamentalist Islamiists. I couldn't write using my real name anymore. For a few months, I was in trouble and had to keep moving around.
But I couldn’t stay silent. I started blogging again. During the first few weeks I received great feedback from people outside Afghanistan reading my blog. They liked it because it was difficult to find independent news from Afghanistan. I was writing in both Farsi and English, and soon many readers were visiting both my blogs. In 2005, I was the ‘Reporters Without Borders’ prize winner for the freedom of expression blog.

I started encouraging young Afghans to blog. I founded and organized the Afghan Association BlogWriters at www.afghanpenlog.com (Farsi) and http://afghanpenlog-en.blogspot.com (English) to promote blogging in Afghanistan. Afghan Penlog is now a network of Afghan bloggers. I am organizing a first teaching blog workshop in Kabul for students and journalists shortly. The aim is to develop the Afghan digital media through blogging. We don't have a completely free media; I think we can fill this gap through blogs. Through these, we can practice free speech and build the way to democracy.

I started not only blogging but writing in several newspapers and magazines, both in Afghanistan and abroad. I have written about discrimination, inequality and injustice suffered by me and millions of people here. The land where I was born was made a land of pain and injustice by warlords for decades.

Blogging hasn’t always been easy. First I took notes. Then, when there was power, I typed them up. After that I saved them to a memory disk. And finally, I went to an internet café in the city upload it on my blog. It was time consuming, but it was important to tell the world that Afghani youths have suffered from war, and how they need help. And it was important to publish news that had no connection to political groups and parties – something rare in my country.

I love blogging - I think I am addicted. When I have regular access to electricity I sometimes post three times a day. I have travelled all around Afghanistan, writing about and taking pictures of every corner of my country. Many of my readers ask what the benefit of blogging is, and why spend so much time and energy on it. I answer that I wanted to learn more about my country and show people what my country looks like and how different is life in each area. I want to show the real face of my people and homeland to the rest of the world.

I also want to document this for future generations, so they don’t experience what I have suffered. I want to picture the beauty, love, hate, smile, anger, interest and peace in the face of my people. I want to show yesterday, and how much it will differ from tomorrow. I tried to highlight some of the suffering of my people. For example, the Afghan women who suffer every day from domestic violence. I pictured children, the next generation, who wander the streets. I still watch them now, begging.

For me, to blog is not only about my daily diaries, but also a window to the world. Through writing and publishing articles about children and their rights on my blog I was able to raise funds for Afghan children. For example, in autumn 2007 I received lots of childrens shoes from the USA. I distributed them among those children who were terrified of the harsh coming winter.
In the meantime, I have tried to teach myself, and today I am very happy. I have found and met lots of great people through my blogs. I often imagine seeing all of them one day. I can't describe how much blogging changed my life. I always share this experience with my friends and encourage them to start blogging.

One of the main reasons I started blogging: to share knowledge and to learn from my readers. They have taught me many things. In the country which spent more than two decades fighting, which has lacked a competent media and started from scratch, the only way is self-education. And I believe blogging is one of the most effective ways of doing this. I have learned a lot of things from my readers during the past four years. But as I wrote on my Farsi blog: "The more I learn, the more I realize I know nothing".

Some online interviews of me:
1) Interview with Globale Voice Online here
2) Interview with Internationalist Magazine here
3) Interview with gair rhydd (Welsh for "free word") is the official student newspaper of Cardiff University, here on page 20th
4) A Dialogue with Roel Verniers Belgiumist writer at Theater of war here
5) My monolog here
6) With Okke Ornstien here


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