As an Afghan woman, I wonder what on earth is our problem? Why are we not learning something from the foreigners? As a country, we are adept at holding others responsible for the mess we have created. We criticize the government on every matter of state without ever acknowledging that we are the government. The government is nothing if there is no public support. Afghan citizens must wake up and take back their country!
There are diverse opinions about the intention of the international community among the Afghan people. Some think of them as invaders, while others welcome them as supporters.
I currently work with a South Korean medical team who has traveled 5,000 kilometers from their families to provide medical help to Afghan citizens. The Koreans I work with are gentle, diligent, genial people. Their intentions are as transparent as glass—and they are good intentions. They want to help the Afghan people. I recently went to a farewell party. The Korean staffers were crying as if they were leaving their real families and so were their Afghan colleagues. I thought to myself that although we hand them difficulties, still they care about us.
South Korea has a history somewhat similar to Afghanistan’s history. Korea was under Japanese imperial rule for 35 years until 1945 when Japan was itself defeated in World War II. Later, after the Japanese occupation ended, Korea was split into North and South Korea by the two rival powers of that time. Division was then followed by the Korean wars, which brought destruction far worse than what Afghanistan has experienced. Ultimately we see that Korea, once burned to ashes, is now so remarkably developed that it stands to support Afghanistan.
I want my people to believe in themselves. We need to stand up for ourselves and stop complaining. Someone must take the first step towards our own prosperity and the citizens of Afghanistan can do it. We need to revive a sense of responsibility among the people and start working for ourselves. The international community is preparing to leave. Who is going to take the reins of leadership when they are gone? We must step up to the responsibility!
Let us follow in the footsteps of Korea and build our country back up better than it was before. We have spent a decade criticizing and blaming each other. It is now time to wake up Afghanistan!
Photo of Dr. Lee Su Hyeon, Deputy Director of the civilian-led Korean Hospital at Bagram airfield, Afghanistan, courtesy Operation Care: Afghanistan.