In The Works – I

by Esmat

‘In The Works’ is a series of posts chronicling the start of an organization I co-founded last year. 

After I came back from Seeds of Peace around late August last year,  I met a friend at the annual Seeds of Peace Afghanistan gathering, whom I got to know through events hosted by Seeds. At one point while I was mingling here and there and making chit chat he came up to me and said,”I am organizing an organization and I want you to be a part of it”. I was stricken with the idea and the explosion of the neurons in my brain that was urging me to say, “Yes!”. I overcame the urge of that spontaneous yes and instead said, “Umm…I’ll think about this.”

That night after the reunion I gave the idea a lengthy process of thinking, I jotted down pieces of notes on a legal pad which would later be incorporated in the Vision & Mission of the organization. Though all of the ideas intrigued me and provoked me to say Yes to my friend, I still wasn’t sure, because this would be the first time I would do something like this. I was cautious. I love making mistakes but I am just concerned with the costs of the mistakes. I was analyzing what could go wrong and what would be the consequences. (No! I am not a person who is not willing to take risks, but hey! You have got to take measures).  

Still, at this point, details were murky. There were a couple of guys at the start that made countless Facebook chat groups with horrendous names that was supposed to be the name of our organization, e.g. Patchwork of Afghan Youth or something similar to that. I showed disinterest to that and everyone else followed me and the name ended up in the trashcan, and it’s one of those times that I will forever thank myself for showing disinterest to something.

None of us had done anything of this sort. Everyone was my age or a bit older or younger. We all talked, with bursts of texts and countless emojis in several Facebook chat groups, rarely bringing up the idea of the organization, but the chat groups were exactly made for that. Picture this – a Facebook chat group with all of the members being teenagers, what do you expect to happen? Of course the usual nonsense about how hard life is and how cute this cat looks or how this guy did something to that dude. But we managed to overcome some of that and talk a bit about the organization and getting together.

My friend, at the reunion thought we should first test pilot this group of people, to see if they can be worked with. So our first project would be to organize the annual Bridges to Peace in Kabul, which is a global initiative by Seeds of Peace. The country director of Seeds told us that we were the dream team/committee to organize the event. People were asked to volunteer, few raised their hands, among them were me and several others which later on would become the founding members of the organization. We set up a meeting but forgot about it as far as my memory serves me right.

Few weeks later  after working unproductively on Facebook chat groups a meeting was organized. One of us even posted a Google Maps screenshot of the restaurant we were about to meet in the next day.

I was the first one to get to the meeting. I went inside the restaurant and asked to keep two tables on the garden side reserved for a meeting. Next my friend came and we waited for a while others would come, then went outside and took a walk. He started again by asking me to be a partner with him in the organization. We talked more while we waited for others to arrive to the meeting.

It took few phone calls and dozens of messages on Facebook through him and several other people whom I call “friends” to convince me to join the initiative to found what is now  known as Voice of Peace.