View From an Afghan Blogger

Posted January 19th, 2012 at 3:46 pm (UTC+7)
4 comments

Bun Tharum, Phnom Penh

Hameed Tasal is a 23-year-old blogger and technologist from Jalalabad, Afghanitan. He’s one of the authors of a blog called Jalalagood.

I asked him to guest blog his perspectives on a monthlong trip he took to Cambodia–his first visit ever. He writes:

“I was in Cambodia for one month this time. I was invited to do some training and visit projects by Innovative Support to Emergencies, Diseases and Disasters, or InSTEDD, in Cambodia. You can google them. (I am running on Basic HTML mode which means I can’t link.) This trip was a little work and some vacation time.

Right next to Hameed is Chum Mey, a Tuol Sleng survivor

“I was renting an apartment from a professor of Pannasatra University. A very friendly and nice person. We bonded very well. That’s where I was staying most of the time. Having stayed in Phnom Penh for a week, I wanted to see the real and more rural Cambodia so I went to Kampot for a week. I made some local friends and I went to some of the rice
fields and volunteered to help with the rice harvest for a few hours. I went to the college of education in Kampot a couple of times. I was connected to the college through Volunteer Service Overseas, which is a British organization, and US Peace Corps volunteers that I’d met on the bus to Kamput. Then Charlene, the VSO volunteer, recommended Rabbit Island, and I went there and spent a night on the gulf of Thailand. I also went to Kep. I liked the small town and simple life of the people.

“I feel accomplished when I can be of help to others. Afghanistan is similar to Cambodia. Corruption is a big issue here. That makes rich people (usually dirty money) richer and poor people ever more poor. I come from a poor family, and I feel like developing the poor’s livelihood is where I belong. I went to an orphanage and I was teaching those kids how to make and use a rocket cooker (make it out of trash cans) in Phnom Penh and our knife broke when we were cutting cans for the stove. I went to the nearby market with a kid to buy another one. We were walking hand in hand, and it felt so heart warming when the 9-year-old kid squeezed my hand to show affection.

“I usually blog about social issues and injustice like corruption, human rights, education and so on. I travel a lot for work and I blog about work and the security and other constraints that I face during work and how that hinders our development.

“I am not a new blogger. Internet has made my life a lot easier. From news to finding local restaurants, etc. I think that I should contribute and share my stories and what is going on in my society with the rest of the world.

“When I first came to Cambodia I went to a restaurant and met with some expats and had dinner with them, went to the markets with them, hung out with them. But a few days later, I realized that those were people that I can hang out with any time.

“I wanted to make Khmer friends and blend in there. I wanted to spend time with them and get to know them. During my time in Kampot, I got to do all of that. When I went to the bloggers’ meet up there, I saw young people who were actively working for social change. I think that locals can help their own community more than the internationals can. If both work together, then that’s very effective. I admire the young Cambodian bloggers’ activism and their endeavors for the betterment of their society, though they face some challenges re their freedom of expression.

“I have Facebook friends from Cambodia and Twitter followers, and I enjoy talking/discussing things with them.”

Thanks, Hameed.

Bun Tharum is a freelance journalist, blogger, and digital media specialist. Blogging since 2004, he’s been a contributing-writer for Global Voices Online, Asian Correspondent, and several other print publications. His main interests are information and communication technologies for development and online media. Tharum’s base is Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s largest capital city.

4 Responses to “View From an Afghan Blogger”

  1. scott says:

    Hameed, thanks for the above description of some of the things that you are involved with. I am encouraged to hear about people like you and this gives me hope that “social change” and “peace and justice” are not just words, but actions. I live in the USA and have begun to try and do something to help bring about change. Unlike you, I am not skilled with computer or social media, but I am learning. I feel my talent is in Art and hope that through political artwork I can help others see what needs to be changed. I design the art for t-shirts since that way people have a way of communicating without even saying a word. I feel that ,in order for there to be Peace and Justice, it will require accountability of those in power. We the people must be able to hold them accountable for their actions and then we may see less abuse of powers. Here in the USA, we are kept ignorant of what is really happening in the rest of the world. Our news and media is so focused on the superficial and sanitized of harsh reality experience outside the US. That is why I think people like you are so important in that you can communicate this so that Americans can hear. As the opposition to the USA’s wars and aggression is globally broadcasted on the internet by social activist, we in the US will better know the truth and seek change. Think of it like the world world shouting at the US ( and the UK)to wake up and stop the killing and wars. It has a lot to do with the super “rich” who make dirty money from war. They encourage the governments to go in that direction for their own personal greed. I just started my site with my art work, but will continue to add more. I ned to get the message out and ask that others spread the word. We are in an election year and the top candidate is Obama. I voted for him in 2008 because I believed him and thought he was going to bring real “change” to make the USA better. He has continued with war policies, drone attacks, and worse. We have one candidate who wants to stop all of our wars and bring all US troops home, but he is not popular. My e-mail is; scott@bush-it-usa.com and my site is http://www.bush-it-usa.com . I believe that a global social movement for Peace and Justice is possible and has begun. Scott

  2. ankur says:

    @Scott: No Cadidate will ever stop the war.

    @Hameed : Keep up the good work. Afganistan is in pretty bad shape, for us it still resembles the 17th century. Dont take my word ina negative way but in past times people were honest. I feel afganistan still has honesty but we both know the hurdles in the way.

  3. Reasey says:

    Thanks Hameed for visit our country. I am a Cambodian and I feel the same way too. Seeing my people being poor and get hard living, I feel very bad and want to help my country as much i can. I hope soon and later good things will come up beyond Cambodia. Pray for us and for our country.

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Bun Tharum is a freelance journalist, blogger, and digital media specialist. Blogging since 2005, he’s been a contributing-writer for Global Voices Online, Asian Correspondent, and several other print publications. His main interests are information and communication technologies for development and online media. Tharum’s base is Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s largest capital city.

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