art of resistance, Syria

Playlist: Rojava Women.

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Female pressure is an international network of female artists in the fields of electronic music and digital arts founded by ElectricIndigo – from musicians, composers and DJs to visual artists, cultural workers and researchers.

Their Rojava Women compilation was out in March this year. The album is described as “tracks of understanding and solidarity. Sounds in support of a continuous, relentless opposition to regional fascism and, at the same time to universal fascism, religious or secular.

Opposition carried through body and soul on behalf of us all. Opposition that can make life, as a future of freedom and equality, available to all. Opposition that we must keep alive before we can celebrate.”

This compilation is a donation campaign – the donations go directly to the women of Rojava to build a women’s village on location called The Village Project.

You can find out more about the album and listen to the songs here.

Previous Playlist:

The Melody of our Alienation (Yemen)

Ruba Shamshoum

Jerusalem in my heart

Maghawir by Mashrou’ Leila

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art of resistance, Egypt

Egypt: The Women Of The Village.

Hidden Hope/photo © Heba Khamis/

I was raised in a small village, in a humble, hardworking environment. Stories with such background always find a special place in my heart, I can relate to them and I can understand their depth, the struggle they are telling.

When it comes to harsh village life, in many places of the world, women are still those who get the worst of it. The Women of the village by Egyptian photographer Heba Khamis gives insight into such story.

It is a story about village women in Egpyt and their everyday journey, a journey they take because they need to do it in order to survive. They face hunger as they search for a better life – job, money, being able to provide for themselves.

In a country like Egypt, where a major part of society cannot imagine a place for a woman except in her home, with her family and under her husband’s control – this journey in search for work is particularly significant and risky for women.

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“Um Alaa comes from Ezbet Sakhawy in Kafr al-Sheikh. The village is named after her family. Traders come to her house so that she can buy whatever she needs, while the rest of the women have to go to the markets. Each village market is held on only one day of the week. This means that if any of them wants something during the week, she has to go to a different village.”

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“Seda, known as ‘Um Dalia’, works in Khurshid market in Sayah Kafr al-Sheikh. She is judged for sometimes showing her bare arms as she works. Though she has daily contact with the city, she still lives in a conservative society. Um Dalia is the mother of five girls, all of whom have completed higher education. She has managed to marry off three of them. Her next goal is to find husbands for the remaining two.”

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“Her struggle begins as the sun rises, hurrying to catch the morning train to Alexandria. If she fails, the day is lost because there are no other cheap trains. The only remaining option then is to hire a car with other women for LE50 per person.”

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“Hope for a better life is Salma’s companion. She is a 22-year-old a university student in her third year of study. Her subject is the origin of religion. Salma must organize her week carefully, rationing time for study and travel, covering her university costs and taking care of her family. As the eldest daughter, she is the one who looks after her sick father. Because of all these demands on her time, she attends university only one day a week, on Sunday. She has to work all the other days of the week. In the foreground, Hamida, 44 years old, is married and works to ensure that the children of her late brother have a decent life.”

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“Soad takes cover under her scarf. The village beauties are on a constant journey that will not end until their lives come to a close. They have nothing but patience to ease their aches and pains. As she said, ‘I want to rest before I die.’ But then she remembered that she still has a daughter to be married and to furnish her house.”

This beautiful and important photo essay was published on Panorama, a platform for showcasing the best photojournalistic coverage of under-reported corners of Egypt and issues of interest to the greater Arab world.

The photograher, talented Heba Khamis, is now at a great crossroad in her life – and she needs a little help. She got a half scholarship from The Danish School for Media and Journalism in Denmark to study photojournalism where they will offer her a fee waiver but without any stipend.

She now started an IndieGoGo campaign to raise money  which would help her accept the photojournalism grant, develop her skills and – give us many more great stories like The Women of the Village. If you can, please help her and share her story – even if you donate only a couple of dolars – it’s important!

I hope to hear and see much more of her work in the future.

//all photos © Heba Khamis//

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Afghanistan, art of resistance

Afghan Women by Farzana Wahidy.

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The Afghan city of Kunduz was seized by the Taliban this week. A hospital in Kunduz was bombed today during the US airstrike – Medecins Sans Frontieres says it gave the coordinates of hospital (hit by an airstrike that killed at least 19 people) to US forces several times.

Another 19 human beings and all their lives are now being reduced to collateral damage. Afghanistan, and all the other war-torn places can’t seem to leave my head…

Farzana Wahidy was born in Kandahar and moved to Kabul at the age of six. She attended school during the years of the Afghan civil war. After the Taliban came to power and prohibited the education of women, she secretly attended an underground school located in an apartment with three hundred other girls (it made me think of Nadia Anjuman and the Golden Needle Sewing School).

And Anjuman’s verses just keep on reappearing in front of my eyes, falling all around – sounds of shattered glass.

One day my thoughts, instead of a chill

will bring fireworks

One day my eyes will be wide open

such that

in seeing the shrunken leaves of the ocean, they continue flowing

One day my hands will become weavers

and upon life’s wasteland of a body

spin a gown with wheat and flowers

But back to Wahidy now. When the Taliban were defeated Wahidy continued her education, completing high school then enrolling in a two-year program sponsored by AINA photojournalism Institute. In 2004 she began working part-time as a photojournalist for AFP becoming the first female Afghan photojournalist to work for an international wire service. She continues to freelance for a number of international news outlets.

These are some of the photos from her Afghan Women series.

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/all photos © Farzana Wahidy/

I’d like to end this post with one more Afghan woman I admire and often think of – Setara from the Afghan Star. I don’t know where and how she is now, but I hope music still lifts heaviness from her heart and she still manages to look life in the eyes with a smile.

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• • •

For more on Farzana Wahidy and her work, visit her official website.

For more on Nadia Anjuman and her poetry, visit Circumference.

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Afghanistan, art of resistance

The Book To Read: Afghanistan, Where God Only Comes to Weep.

I recently read (finally) Siba Shakib’s well-known novel Afghanistan, Where God Only Comes to Weep. It is a story about Shirin-Gol, Afghan woman who was just a young girl when her village was levelled by the Russians’ bombs in 1979. We follow her life from her teenage years to her adulthood – going from one refugee camp to antoher, from Afghanistan to Pakistan, from Pakistan to Iran and back to Afghanistan. And all of that before the US invasion (the book was published in 2002). Who knows what happened to Shirin-Gol later…

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Siba Shakib is an Iranian-German filmmaker and writer, and she spent many years working in Afghanistan. This book (she was just finishing it when the attack on World Trade Center happened) was a result of her ‘story-collecting’ ventures in Afghanistan. Seeing all the suffering, particularly the burden women carry on their shoulders, she decided to write this book. This is a story about Shirin-Gol, but it is, at the same time, a story about millions of Afghan women (and men) and their endless suffering.

The book was fast-paced and simply written, it really felt like listening to Shirin-Gol’s story. You may feel there’s some depth missing from the story, you may look for more explanation, but this book will not provide you with that. I don’t think it lacks quality for that reason. This was meant to be a book written the only way war (often) allows us to write and tell stories – with not much time to reflect on things, with constant changes and adaptation to new circumstances.

That is why, when things settle down, when the defence mechanism is down, when you are finally at peace for a while – you start feeling the pain kicking in. It is like Khaled Juma wrote about his experience in Gaza: “I recall that after the 2012 war, many people said to me: ‘It is strange that we did not feel scared during the war, but after it finished we feel terrified.’ This is precisely the concept of ‘crisis storage.'”

Unlike many foreign authors who write about Afghanistan (and other war-torn countries) Siba Shakib doesn’t make this book about herself, about her journey through the demolished country. The focus is were it should be – on the victims, the Afghan people. Shakib lets them speak through his book.

Although I read a lot about Afghanistan and its people, it’s always incredible how much suffering can fit into one lifetime, one body, one heart. It is incredible how people can endure it, how they go on, how they survive. We must pay respect to their courage and we must be aware of their pain. This book doesn’t exist for us (by us I mean people who don’t live in a war-torn country) to feel better about our lives, this book exists so that we could do something about them (by them I mean people who are suffering, people caught in the horrors of war). Afghanistan, Were God Only Comes to Weep is only a tiny part of the big Afghanistan puzzle, but it is worthy of attention – read it.

• • •

Previous The Book To Read:

Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh

Late For Tea At The Dear Palace 

A Sky So Close by Betool Kheadiri

My Happiness Bears No Relation To Happiness

and more.

 

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Pakistan

Water Scarcity: Ethiopia & Pakistan.

Mustafah Abdulaziz‘s Water (2012-2018) is photographic typology of a natural resource in crisis. Structured into chapters, the project reflects on our relationship with water, how we use and misuse it, to ultimately understand our place within one of the greatest challenges of our time. This on-going project, spanning water issues from 32 countries, has received grants from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, commissions from the United Nations and WaterAid.

His project Water Scarcity: Ethiopia & Pakistan is the first step on that long photographic journey.

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women-water-001After reaching the dry riverbed, women must spend time scratching the dirt until brackish water appears, scoop it into their containers and carry the 20 kilograms back up the mountain.

women-water-002“Bringing the water is not a simple task”, says Mariam Bakaule of the mountaintop village of Jarso in southwest Ethiopia. “This is the essence of women. Women and water are synonymous here. “

women-water-003A dry riverbed in the southern Konso region of Ethiopia.

women-water-004Although Uchiya Nallo, 29, is eight months pregnant and spends half of her day climbing up a mountain side carrying 20 litres of water (approximately 20kg, the average weight allowance for a suitcase when flying), she is still worrying about prepraring beer for visiting guests after she’s given birth.

women-water-006A woman who recently gave brith to a daughter clings to life while men from her village hike 16 kilometers from the nearest medical center to her village in the mountains.

women-water-017Women of Tharpakar in the southern Sindh Province of Pakistan work together to pull water from a well. Even when one person is done, they all remain at the well to share in the task.

women-water-019Children take a break during their journey for water, huddling against the wind in the desert of the southern Sindh province, where the 2011 earthquake left the land flooded and soaked into salt. Agriculture in the region has been devastated.

women-water-020A grandmother comforts her grand-grand child as he suffers from diarrhea, caused by the unsafe dirnking water in the town of Thatta. Diarrhea is on of the leading causes of child mortality worldwide.

women-water-023Like Ethiopia, the burden of water collection falls on women and children. Their journeys across parched landscapes are a reality that dominates their lives, time and health.

/all photos © Mustafah Abdulaziz/

For more on Mustafah Abdulaziz and his work, visit his official website.

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