Stand By Me Lesvos

Moria Academia: a place for Free Afghanistan

Since the Taliban’s recent takeover of Afghanistan, many Afghan people in the camp fear for the future of their home country, where basic human rights, and especially those of women, are now under serious threat. In an interview with Medico International, Milad* stresses: “We fear enormous violations of the rights of children, girls and women in Afghanistan.” While the Taliban themselves claim to be a more moderate version of what was felt by Afghans from 1996-2001, many Afghans respond to these promises with disbelief. In a parallel manner, our Afghan partners’ friends and family are sending them updates, alongside pictures and videos which contradict the Taliban’s press statements. It is for this reason that several of our Afghan partners have appealed to the international community for help, on behalf of Afghans who are now silenced. Because it is not only a matter of whether girls will still be able to attend school, or if women will be able to work. The real big questions regard what will happen to people’s personal freedom.

Their access to basic human rights, such as freedom of mobility, freedom of expression, as well as to be free from the prospect of harm exerted by one’s own government under the pre-text of a strict Sharia rule. For young girls, this question translates into whether the Taliban will continue to kidnap girls as young as 12 years old for the purpose of being gifted as sex slaves to the Taliban soldiers. Particularly since the Taliban already started this process by sending out a notice in July, where they demanded lists summarizing the names of girls from 15 and up, to widows under 45, followed by door-to-door searches. As such, the real question is: what will happen to them?

While we do not know the answers to any of these questions, we do know that our partners at Moria Academia will continue to provide Afghan women and girls in the camp with a safe place where they can gather and learn. Moria Academia is a self-organized educational initiative, by and for refugees, offering daily language courses, music classes and many other activities. It is a place where people can acquire new skills, share experiences and talk freely to one another. It is for this reason that many Afghans in the camp have started calling the space of Moria Academia “Free Afghanistan”, because here, women are welcome to come and learn. 

At Moria Academia women and girls can make music together, in contrast to what is now possible in Afghanistan, where the Taliban recently destroyed a large amount of music instruments at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music. People, male or female, can also attend computer classes and language classes, where they teach or learn English, Greek or German. In addition, they may come sew or repair their clothes in the tailor workshop, while the younger children can attend a kindergarten. At Moria Academia, no one tells women how they should or should not dress. Because here, they are not only free, but even encouraged, to speak their mind. The restriction of imposed totalitarian rule is a shared experience among several communities residing in Mavrovouni Camp, and Moria Academia has become a place where Afghans alongside people from other communities can further develop and share their knowledge.

In the interview with Medico International, Milad* said: “Two weeks ago, we organized a protest here at the Moria Academia. Many women have dared to speak out loud what they think. It was a very emotional event (…) We cannot fight the Taliban with weapons, but we can fight with our ideas and the pen and publish it through our own media channels”.

We believe that education is key to equality and empowerment. If you agree, please share and consider making a donation : with your help we will continue to support Moria Academia and their valuable work.

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Moria Academia and related educational programs hold up by Stand by me Lesvos are supported by Medico International, Solingen hilft e. V., Ein Herz für Moria, the Office of Displaced Designers and Solidariaet International and Heimatsstern. Thank you for your ongoing support.

* Name changed. To read the full interview with Moria Academia by Medico International click here:


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