Afghanistan-series by Liz Strick

I am grateful that I have learnt a lot about Afghanistan through the eyes of Alex and Orzala
and I shall always continue to follow developments in the country.

Reason for the project

Having lived abroad myself for about 24 years of my life, it was not actually such a difficult bridge for me to cross. Afghan culture has many aspects that I can relate to from the time I spent in other Muslim countries. And so it was that I embarked on this new series of paintings on Afghanistan.  My main concern was to choose subject matter that would highlight the country in a positive and warm light, as a stark contrast to the negative information we read about in the newspapers and see on television. As I advanced with my series of paintings I developed the idea of wanting to add a fund raising aspect to it by organizing a special exhibition to raise funds for a specific project in Afghanistan, so that my efforts will help to do some good for the education of some of the children of Afghanistan.
In 2006 my youngest son Alex Strick van Linschoten moved to Afghanistan to work and live there permanently and independently (currently in Kandahar), as a researcher, freelance journalist and writer. He writes about the country’s day to day developments and history too, delving deep into the past and thinking about the future of Afghanistan. He is currently working on a PhD at the War Studies Department of King’s College London on the identity of the Taliban movement as expressed through their own writings and statements. As a mother, I am naturally concerned about his welfare. Embarking on this painting journey of my paintings on Afghanistan, I too, in a way, am making my own journey through Afghanistan on canvas, be it from the safe corners of my studio. Working on this series has both been therapeutic as well as helpful to find peace in my heart about Alex’s commendable independent and dangerous mission in Afghanistan.
Through Alex I met a wonderfully strong Afghan woman and friend  Orzala Ashraf Nemat. Orzala is a prominent civil society activist working to empower local communities to find peaceful solutions to conflict. In 2010, she founded the Youth & Women’s Leadership Centre. Previously, as the founder and chair of a leading Afghan NGO, Humanitarian Assistance to the Women and Children of Afghanistan or HAWCA, Orzala devoted ten years to establishing and delivering training programs to Afghan women and children in refugee communities in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Often putting herself directly at risk under the Taliban regime, she launched underground literacy and health education programs for women and girls. She is increasingly involved in political advocacy and development at the national level and is on the board of directors of the Afghan Women’s Network and other human rights networks in Afghanistan.

Het project

Upon hearing about Orzala’s Utran Kili Project, for which she hopes to build a school, my mind was quickly made up when it came to making a choice of a good project to help raise additional funds for with my Afghanistan series.

In March 2010, as a result of two Young Global Leaders Christian Wenk (Switzerland) and Orzala Ashraf Nemat (Afghanistan) an initiative was taken to build a school for 400 girls and boys in a far and remote part of Afghanistan’s eastern province Nangarhar.

According to the plan agreed among both, Christian has organized fund-raising programs while Orzala managed the process of speaking to local people, getting their agreements and managing the construction of the school. The school construction is 90% completed at this stage, some of the heavy raining during the year and also the breaking of mountain have delayed the completion slightly. However, according to the plan, the school will be ready to be inaugurated on March 22nd, 2011, when the Afghan academic year begins. The funds received so far from Christian amount to €40,000.00.
This is the cost for the completion of the school’s construction. The initiative will continue to be sponsored for school costs for the first year, while by the second year, it will be formally handed over to the provincial department of the Ministry of Education for further continuation.

For more details (including site photos) see the URL link to ‘Utran Kili Project’ above.

Afghanistan Series in the news

Initially encouraged by my son Alex Strick van Linschoten’s activities as a researcher and a writer in Kandahar, Afghanistan and of course also by my Afghan friends, I have decided to dedicate the entire year (2010) to a new series of paintings: “the Afghanistan-series”.

With it I hope to highlight the soul and beauty of the Afghan people and their country as a stark contrast to all negative news we get bombarded with via the various media. It is my intention to organise a special fundraising exhibition to raise funds for a particular nice educational project in Afghanistan, worked out and initiated by my dear Afghan friend Orzala A. Nemat

For more information and latest updates about the project see the website of Christian Wenk, the main benefactor of this project: “School Project Utran Kili”

In a short video  Christian Wenk talks about how he supports the project.

The Afghanistan paintings