Recovering from War, Working for Peace in Kabul

A report from our trip to Kabul, Afghanistan

Day 5 of our workshop, and the participants are sharing their stories related to war. The purpose is both to practice to deal with their own experiences and to train their ability to help others by listening to others processing their war memories.

We talked about how war is the ultimate expression of human irrationality. War pushes all inequalities and oppression in a society to its extremes. Women are raped as a means of war. Children are neglected and abused, and witness things they cannot process. Men are expected to kill and get killed.

The exercises

First exercise for the participants was to tell each other about their personal stories related to war. That is an important part of healing emotionally from war and to start rebuilding trust in others. It’s also crucial for getting the experiences processed so that the individual is less likely to be pulled into destructive behaviour towards herself or himself, or others.


We were a bit cautious about this exercise since we know it can feel really tough to revisit bad memories, and we actually planned not to do this exercise – until an interpreter saw the question and spontaneously said that “This is an important question for us!”

It turned out really well. We heard everything from young adults thinking they didn’t have any experience of war.

One of the participants started out telling his stories but then said that he didn’t want to continue because it made him feel so bad. We encouraged him not to talk about more than he feels he can handle, which he did. He later shared a really bad story that still haunts him.

The next exercise was to show a way to work on being hopeful and not let your mind get stuck in destructive tracks. The participants got to think about what Kabul and Afghanistan would be like if there was peace.

Heartwarming commitment and openness. A comment that recurred was: “It feels really good to be thinking of peace!”

We learned the value of listening to both hardships and hopes.