These past few years I have had the opportunity to go to Afghanistan. I cannot even begin to describe the relationships that I’ve built or what I’ve seen. I’ll do my best to capture it for you.
So often we see this country and we only see war. Our troops have died and sacrificed their lives to protect us and the civilians. We associate what we think of this country with what we see on social media.
I went to Afghanistan with an open mind and with some reservations just like anyone else. All I can tell you is that valleys are magical, the mountains gorgeous with their snowy peak tops, the food delicious and best of all, the people inviting, warm and friendly.
I look back at these times with fond memories for the women I met that inspired me and with a sense of frustration for the lack of resources available to them. They are bittersweet memories. The women that I met were courageous, filled with resilience, sense of humor that was contagious and burning passion for knowledge.
Being a therapist, my goal was to help these women, organizations and individuals become aware of mental health concerns among other issues. At one point, I was describing what anxiety feels like and how it presents itself, and a young woman stated,” That makes so much sense. I felt that I was going crazy, that there was something wrong with me. I have a name for this condition.” I can clearly remember her saying that to this day. I could see the little gears in her mind connecting the dots. Another time, I was teaching a class of women progressive muscle relaxation. These women were para-professional counselors. They were laughing and felt awkward when I first described to them what we were going to do and how this exercise is beneficial. They lit up with laughter and joy when they finished the 20-minute exercise.
Here in the United States, there’s an abundant amount of services available for women, children and men. Each organization has at least some type of counseling services, there are social services, the schools have counselors and a psychologist to hotline. There’s a system here even with all of its flaw, its’ here to help us. In Afghanistan, therapy is just in its infancy. The newer generation understands the importance of psychological services and how it can be beneficial for living in a conflict zone.
To live in a world full of war and conflict is horrifying and I know that is an understatement. Yet within all this chaos, I see the beauty of the people, the resilient spirit flickering through the darkest nights, the friendliness and warmth they provide as if you were their own family, the unwavering hope of a better tomorrow and the camaraderie they show each other.
We take running water, heat, the roof over our heads, other necessities at times for granted. We have luxuries that we don’t think twice about. There is so much to be grateful for within our daily lives – if we only stopped for a second and paid attention.
I am grateful to have met such fierce and brave warriors that have etched their stories within my heart. I carry these stories and in these stories I hope that I, too, can be like them: being brave against oppression, being resilient and not losing sight, trusting God, still maintain the laughter and warmth within me and not become cynical from my own circumstances to how the world interacts with each other.
On the last note, I leave you with some food for thought. How are you showing up and being resilient towards yourself so that you can help others?
Name: Noor Pinna
Author Bio: Noor Pinna is a full-time licensed mental health counselor who has a private practice in Kingston, NY. She also an adjunct professor at Mount Saint Mary College where she teaches psychology classes. She is also an international mental health advocate and a self-care promoter. Her work has appeared in American Counseling Association and has contributed to articles in Huffington Post. She volunteers her time helping refugees,raising awareness of mental health concerns, and breaking down cultural diversity barriers within therapy. She enjoys writing poetry, articles, and creating inspirational artwork.
Link to social media or website: https://www.instagram.com/love_color_np/