Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

Context and Culture

Modest beginnings

Martine van Bijlert < 1 min

April 2009. After having worked out of the EUSR office in Kabul for almost five years I am suddenly institutionally homeless. I borrow a spare office in an NGO compound, so that I can at least offer people a quiet place and a cup of tea.

The walls are bare, the couch sags and the Afghans who come to see me look at me with a mixture of surprise and concern. Wondering whether I have somehow fallen from grace, whether my connections have failed me, whether I will still be of use to them.

It is not so easy to translate “Afghanistan Analysts Network” into Dari, both in terms of language and in terms of what it will do. Most people nod gravely and offer their help, some look slightly bemused. One of them commented that this new organization was a good idea, but that we should also have one that does “real work” (which, as Sari remarked, probably means infrastructure and factories, or in his case literacy projects and possibly the prospect of a militia).

April becomes May. Our registration documents have finally traveled the world to collect the necessary signatures and have been approved by the German court. Our website is no longer filled with fake Latin ramblings and our first papers are being written as we speak. We keep each other informed through skype conference calls – sitting on the bed and shouting at my laptop (hello, is anyone still there!). Waiting for the day that we will have an office again, with a printer, a driver and someone you can send out for errands.


Human Rights NGO


Martine van Bijlert

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