Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What Child Is This?

Our dear friend Ehsanullah Ehsan, school principal, director of the Afghan-Canadian Community Centre in Kandahar City and a brave leader in the Afghan struggle for the emancipation of women, for literacy and for freedom, sent along this letter. Ehsanullah, a Muslim, intended it mainly as a Christmas message to Canadians, Canadian soldiers, and their families. We asked if he would allow us to circulate it, and he agreed.

Let me wish you all Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and would like to take the opportunity to thank you very much for your very noble services, sacrifices, bringing us, the Afghans and the world peace, security and development.

I know 2009 was not an easy year for some of us, the families who lost their love ones in fight against terrorism, extremism, warlordism, druglordism, backwardness and human rights violations.

(Lieutenant Andrew Nuttall, originally from Victoria, was killed yesterday, in the Panjwaii district, not far from Kandahar City. "Andrew came to Afghanistan because he honestly believed that he could make a difference to the people of Afghanistan and he demonstrated that every time he went on patrol.")

We also understand that challenges in Afghanistan have caused some of you to celebrate this great occasion of Christmas and New Year away from your homes and love ones. We thank you and wish you all a joyous and peaceful Christmas commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, may peace be upon him.

God is with us and we will soon be receiving his blesses of peace, enlightenment, prosperity, solace, dignity and unity.

Through this massage I would like to reiterate that your tireless and brave efforts and countless generosities are noticed and appreciated by the hundreds of men and women teachers and students of the Afghan-Canadian Community Center (ACCC).

You should be proud of what you're doing. Your families must be proud of you. You may not know, but we all appreciate what you have been doing. Your mission is holy and a success, no doubt about it.

We do know you are working in a very complex and uncomfortable situation. You are dealing with warlords, drug lords, tribal lords/rivals, extremists, corruption and interference by prejudice and selfish networks around Afghanistan. We do know how wisely and professionally you are handling all of this mess to save Afghanistan and the world. We thank you for your dedicated services and we are praying for your successes in your very holy mission of bringing us peace, security and development.

Let us wish you all a very joyful Christmas and New Year and pray that the New Year may bring healing and peace to our suffering Afghanistan and the world as a whole.

- Ehsanullah Ehsan, Director of the Afghan-Canadian Community Center, Kandahar, Afghanistan.

I visited with Ehsanullah in Kandahar around this time last year. I wrote then, and I should reiterate here and now, that I don't think I've ever met a more courageous person, anywhere, in my entire life (you can learn how to help him in his work at the Afghan school project website). He'd just received another "night letter," a death threat from the Taliban. A few days before, on his own doorstep, a neighbour had been shot and killed by the Taliban for the crime of working for a government electricity agency. A few days after we met, six girls had acid sprayed in their faces as they walked to school.

The Afghan-Canadian Community Centre is situated in a rambling old house behind high whitewashed walls down a dusty Kandahar City backstreet, a place Ehsan has transformed into a sanctuary of civility, learning and literature for Kandahari women. It’s roughly equal parts college, vocational school, computer lab, library, and free internet cafe. It’s called the Afghan-Canadian Community Centre owing to Ehsan’s many Canadian friends and patrons, not least Ryan Aldred, a Canadian Forces reservist and devoted philanthropist who has made Ehsan’s vision his own.

Ehsan is 38, the father of five young children, and one of 13 brothers and sisters from the village of Shagoy, in Zabul province, where his family had built a successful dried fruit business from its apricot trees and grape vineyards. It was all there for Ehsan’s taking, but he walked away from it to devote his life to what he calls the cause of civilization. “Enlightenment, you know? All that beauty. . ."

I don't think many book-believing Christians stop by here. But for any who do, and especially for those of you who have friends and family in Afghanistan, please accept my warmest and most affectionate regards and my hopes that you and yours have a peaceful and contented and happy Christmas.

Truth is an arrow, and the gate is narrow that it passes through:


Blogger David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 12/24/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

7:33 AM  
Blogger Blazing Cat Fur said...

Merry Christmas Terry;)

7:53 AM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...


On the matter of Canadian continued involvement in securing exactly this kind of activism in Afghanistan the wind does not seem to be in your back. Canadians would much rather listen to Michael Ware's kind of fare when he assures CNN viewers that Afghans regard the foreign forces as occupiers and can't wait for them to butt out.. And even when they don't, they ask: why is it our duty to make sure that little girls who go to school in Afghanistan will not be sprayed with acid for doing so.

There is not much friendship in the world or among the peoples. Indifference seems to be the default position, the natural way of being.

Yours is one of the rare and clear voices that can pierce through this moral fog. You don't mince words and you do not prevaricate; an authentic humanitarian.


9:09 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Happy Christmas, Blazer, and toda raba to you, Contentious One.

9:56 AM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

Hey Merry Christmas Terry, keep up the amazing work!

7:43 PM  
Blogger Raphael Alexander said...


That's a great tribute to our people from Mr.Ehsan.

I'm a huge Bob Dylan fan, yet I'd never heard that song before. It's heart-wrenching. What a masterful poem.

9:26 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

All the best, Vildechaye.

Raphael: I suspect that a generation from now, Dylan's strange "Christian" phase may prove to have held up better than any other. His "Infidels" and "Slow Train Coming" albums are genius.

11:20 PM  
Blogger randyZ said...

Thanks for posting this,

I suppose I am a book believing Christian who passes through here regularly. Additionally, I had a friend serving.

Keep up the good work Terry. Fighting for truth and justice brings everyone together.

11:17 PM  

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