Afghanistan, fragments of solidarity and populations

Afghanistan, fragments of solidarity and populations emerge in the midst of a tragic storm. What do a school for girls in Gulistan, a film house on fire and a book about the people of Afghanistan have to do with each other? I am not going to go into yet another political reading of an announced disaster. Rather, I speak of threads of solidarity, recalling some important events for those who have been able to ‘read’ them.

Herat, a photo by Giuseppe Caridi

Kabul Films

In 2005, I had been invited to Iran’s Fajir Film Festival, a distinguished festival with many guests, few from Europe. Wandering around the film market, I stopped by the Kabul Films stand, intrigued by the mysterious and fascinating country that is Afghanistan. I met some very interesting young artists, including Razi Mohebi, a director and actor of Azeri origin.

In 2006, his film ‘The Kite’ was selected in competition at the Religion Today Film Festival.. The following year, his wife Soheila’s “The Soldier” was selected. We invited Soheila and Razi as guests of the festival’s cohabitation workshop in 2007. They arrived a day earlier than expected with their young son, not even two years old. We got a call from the police at Malpensa airport who had detained them. Our volunteer, engineer Albino Beltrami, jumped into the car from Madonna di Campiglio and went to pick them up.

While the festival was being held in Italy, the Kabul Films headquarters in Afghanistan was set on fire and destroyed, and the instigators were “known unknowns”. The Mohebi remained in Trentino as political refugees, continuing their work in the field of international cinema, but with their hearts still in Afghanistan.

The school and the aqueduct in Gulistan with Col. Scaratti.Afghanistan, fragments of solidarity and populations.

In 2010, Afghanistan came back into my life, when I was councillor for Solidarity and Coexistence for the Province of Trento. I met Colonel Pierluigi Scaratti, who introduced me to a project of the 2nd Engineer Guastatori Regiment: an aqueduct and the rebuilding of a school for girls in the Gulistan Valley. The school had been destroyed by the Taliban.

Afghanistan. From right: l’interprete, Cap. Toscano, Ten col Arivella and the local elder

Col. Scaratti brings us back to the spirit of that important intervention: “The spirit behind it all was to combine a security intervention with a social investment. It was a project of respect for the Afghans who hosted us. Moreover, with small project savings, we repaired the roof of the mosque in an attempt at dialogue and religious respect.”

Construction work on the school for girls in the Gulistan Valley

Italian society united in support of the Afghan people.

The project was completed in a short time, overcoming unimaginable obstacles. I constantly received updates on the progress of the work. I was thrilled when Colonel Scaratti returned from Afghanistan with photos of the finished school! And he handed over to the then enlightened governor of Trentino, Lorenzo Dellai, a letter of thanks from the local governor.

The documentation of the project, with the intense photographs sent by Colonel Scaratti, can be read in an article by Guido De Mozzi.

Giuseppe Caridi’s book, ‘Afghanistan: a journey into the heart of an extraordinary people’.

Too many empty words are of no use at this difficult time for Afghanistan. So we have decided to dedicate an evening in the 24th edition of the Religion Today film Festival to Afghanistan. We will present the book by the traveller Giuseppe Caridi, in love with Afghanistan, who has narrated its depth, charm and harshness.


From Filippo Tuena’s preface: “We reach the Shahtu pass, at 3000 metres above sea level, then descend towards Herat, where ‘the Taliban raids represent a very real threat’. The journey becomes silent, the escort is not distracted to speak, he observes carefully as the fields of poppies, the makers of the dust that gives oblivion, flow along the sides of the road. And so, having left the region, not without some danger, we arrive at the minaret of Jam, the description of which arouses envy in those who have closely observed that missile aimed at the stars, always on the point of abandoning the stone desert and the mountain lake that protect it.

We can avoid resignation by starting to inform ourselves well. The presentation of “Afghanistan: a journey into the heart of an extraordinary people” with Giuseppe Caridi will be held in Trento, at the Tenda di Abramo in Piazza Fiera, on Thursday 23 September 2021 at 8.30 pm.

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