The young girl behind Afghanistan’s simmering peace movement

Photo credit: UNDP

TMP – 03/10/2017

Zarghona Darya, a 23-year-old girl from central Bamyan province of Afghanistan, is a peace activist, working to promote the values of peace across the country.

Taliban fighters killed her father and grandfather when they captured Bamyan province during Afghanistan’s deadly civil war in 1998. Zarghona was only seven when she witnessed their murders.
“Taliban fighters followed us to the mountain on horses. They were wearing black turbans, had bearded faces and long shirts.

They captured my father and my grandfather, dragged them down the hill and sprayed them with bullets in front of our eyes,” Zarghona says.

After seven years of working with the Afghan Peace Volunteers organisation, Zarghona is now a well-known figure among peace activists and works alongside her fellow volunteers to eliminate violence and preach peace in the hope that no other child will experience the horror she did as a young girl.

“I paid a heavy price due to the lack of peace in our country,” Zarghona says. “The only path which can take us to peace is promoting nonviolent behavior.”

Zarghona and her fellow activists gather street children in their office and preach the values of peace and nonviolence. Zarghona explains the children would fight with each other in their first gatherings but gradually they changed.

“Peace comes from the grassroots of society and works its way up, not the other way around,” Zarghona says.

Zarghona is also working to eradicate ethnic divisions and break down barriers between ethnicities. She believes in the power of art and music as a way to eradicate such divisions. As part of her work with the Afghan Peace Volunteers she invites young people from different ethnicities to the organization’s office where they learn the national dance “Aten” and how to play the guitar.