The defining quality of the experience described as an Escape from Kabul is grace – an intercultural experience.
It is fitting that in the Year of Grace that the terrifying experience of “becoming pawns in a deadly political game“ in a war between America and Afghanistan is revisited.
The book is a narrative portrait of an intense period, which stretched from Friday August 3rd until Thurs 15th November 2001. Many people would know that September 11 happened on the 11th of September 2001. This was a frighteningly significant world event wherein the Taliban bombed the Trade Tower. It is suggested that this is the reason why these international hostages were taken and kept alive. They were marked to be used as trade, or as political bargaining power in the aftermath of this catastrophic action.
Positioning of the Shelter Now Aide Organisation
Although one can walk through this portrayed experience in the light of Christianity as shared by the eight captives taken by the Taliban it is not entirely related as a Christian story. These captives were accused of spreading Christianity in Afghanistan. The truth was that they were asked to share their faith by Afghanistan “stooges.” These people, who were perhaps also victims turned out to be country people who were set up by the Taliban to trap the Aide Workers.
The story masterfully entwines description of cultures and through the eyes of these humble Christian people, we can see how the faith of all prisoners concerned are what kept them going.
Grace That Has kept Us Safe This Far and Grace Will See Us Home
On page 65 of the book, Silke describes how the creativity of the Afghan women supoorts them emotionally as they survive terrible hardships. She describes how, after hearing torture occurring behind a wall out of sight but not ear shot, the women stay strong. She goes on to say that in spite of the “humiliations and the unceasing brutality” that was part and parcel of their lives Afghan women possessed a steadfast spirit.
One of their survival strategies, she says, was to upturn their washing bowls so that they could tap out a rhythmic beat. They danced to this beat and each woman in turn was able to, in her own authentic way, bear up her spirit and shore up her soul. Throughout the book there are snippets of this capacity to capitalise on cultural gifts as a way of enduring pressure. Prisoners sang, danced and painted with make shift materials.
An Unlikely Escape from Kabul
The story is, at times, quite exciting and there is a synopsis at the end capturing a snap shot of the escalation of events. The book paints an endearing picture of Afghanistan and the people who are so sorely oppressed there. There are interesting side bars contained within the narrative that explain the historical and political elements. Without this information the story would be too complex to understand for readers if they don’t “know” Afghanistan.
Escape from Kabul is a thought provoking book and it causes the reader to wonder why some people survive inestimable odds and others succumb to disaster. It is interesting to note that throughout the experience the Aid Workers deepened in their love of the Afghanistan people and some soon returned to help rebuild the country as quickly as this was feasible.
There are interesting cartoons, photographs and diagrams that assist the reader navigate the story. The author, Eberhard Muelhan is an educationalist and leader of a family organisation in Germany.
- Muehlan,E. (2003) Escape from Kabul. Strand Publications
Copyright Jo Murphy