Cold, Cold Heart
By Kathy Kelly
Beaver County Peace Links via HuffPort
Feb 14, 2012 – It’s Valentine’s Day, and opening the little cartoon on the Google page brings up a sentimental animation with Tony Bennett singing "why can’t I free your doubtful mind and melt your cold, cold heart."
Here in Dubai, where I’m awaiting a visa to visit Afghanistan, the weather is already warm and humid. But my bags are packed with sweaters because Kabul is still reeling from the coldest winter on record. Two weeks ago, eight children under age five froze to death there in one of the sprawling refugee camps inhabited by so many who have fled from the battles in other provinces. Since January 15, at least 23 children under the age of five have frozen to death in the camps.
And just over a week ago, eight young shepherds, all but one of them under the age of 14, lit a fire for warmth on the snowy Afghan mountainside in Kapisa Province where they were helping support their families by grazing sheep. French troops saw the fire, and acted on faulty information, and the boys were all killed in two successive NATO airstrikes. The usual denunciations from local authorities, and Western apologies, followed.
So I’m thinking about warmth, and who we share it with and who we don’t.
This is an unexpected trip for me. I had first planned to spend this week at home in Chicago, and then, rather suddenly, agreed to join a group of informal human rights observers traveling to Bahrain for the one year anniversary of their brutally repressed "February 17th Revolution" (please follow events there, and demand that the U.S. cease arming Bahrain’s dictatorship, at witnessbahrain.org). Bahraini authorities declined to issue me a visa, and so I asked the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers if I could change my plans and spend the coming week with them.
My friends tell me that the apartment where I’m headed has been without electricity for several days in a row. The pipes have frozen, so there will be no running water. But in spite of the cold, it’s an especially good time to visit them because twelve of them will be there, on winter vacation from school, including two 14-year-old boys I couldn’t meet during my last visit who spent much of the last year away from the others, back home in Bamiyan province, in their mountain villages, supporting their families.