Monthly Archives: May 2012

Internet Cafe Sparks the Fight for Women’s Rights

Take the community conversation of coffeehouse culture, throw in the passion of youth activism, add in the power of social media and the borderless knowledge of the Internet, and package it up in a social enterprise and what do you get? Internet cafes.

Across the world, Internet cafes are the primary form of Internet access for citizens as a shared, public model is more accessible and affordable than individual access in the home. Internet cafes allow for citizen journalism to flourish, for education to diversify and deepen, and for the global community to connect. Thanks to Internet cafes, I’m able to easily communicate with my Afghan translator, Najibullah, to coordinate upcoming trips, discuss projects, and trouble shoot questions that arise once I’m back in the U.S. Najib, would be unable to afford Internet in his home, and has no office, so instead he visits a cafe every couple of days to check in with clients like me and thus has a flourishing business that has expanded to coordinating between several translators and drivers that now work under him to serve his many international clients. Thanks to Internet access, Najib has built a business that can support his extended family.

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The Deafening Silence

Working in war zones, silence is in short supply. Even in a city such as Kabul, outside the daily fighting of Afghanistan’s southern provinces your ears are assaulted at odd hours by low-flying helicopters, sirens, and occasional gunfire. The horns of cars, motorcycles, and police trucks blaring through the traffic chaos never lets up and the individual honks meld into one tone deaf wail. There are times that I’ve literally worn ear plugs during the day just to dull the assault.

But it wasn’t until I met Ghaffar, the founder of the Afghan National Association for the Deaf, that I realized how deafening the silence can be.

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