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Politics

Letterbox campaign helps Afghans cope with silent war of mental health

Updated : 2019-07-24 11:30:49

Hundreds of Afghans, weary of war and unsure of the future, have joined a letter-writing campaign to share their feelings with the powerful few who will decide on peace with the Taliban and, with it, the fate of their country. The letters from different parts of Afghanistan express a tangled mix of confusion, resignation and fear. The letters, part of a project called Dard-e-Dil (a painful heart) are addressed to US diplomats, the Taliban and government officials. They are being written as high-level talks are underway to find a political settlement to end a war that has raged on for 18 years. The Dard-e-Dil project aims to give ordinary people an outlet to express their feelings at a time when the peace talks among top officials dominate politics, even though the fighting has not subsided. "The prevailing political uncertainty is clearly the most nerve-racking phase for Afghans, most of us are already battling depression and mental health issues," said artist Omaid Sharifi, who organised the project. Sharifi's interest in expressing the feelings aroused by the conflict goes back to his work with ArtLords, an art collective he co-founded that has become famous for the dramatic murals it has painted on grim concrete blast walls around Kabul. His team has installed special letter boxes outside cafes, educational centres, hospitals and government offices, encouraging people to try to deal with their anxieties and voice their opinions about the peace talks in letters. The letters are sorted at the ArtLords studio with the aim of sending them on to government authorities, diplomats and the leaders of the insurgency.

A member of the ArtLords sorts letters of Dard-e-Dil (a painful heart) project in Kabul, Afghanistan July 6, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail
A member of the ArtLords sorts letters of Dard-e-Dil (a painful heart) project in Kabul, Afghanistan July 6, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail
Omaid Sharifi (R) who organised the Dard-e-Dil (a painful heart) project sorts letters in Kabul, Afghanistan July 6, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail
Omaid Sharifi (R) who organised the Dard-e-Dil (a painful heart) project sorts letters in Kabul, Afghanistan July 6, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail
A member of the ArtLords opens the letters box of Dard-e-Dil (a painful heart) project in Kabul, Afghanistan July 6, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail
A member of the ArtLords opens the letters box of Dard-e-Dil (a painful heart) project in Kabul, Afghanistan July 6, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail
Members of the ArtLords sort letters of Dard-e-Dil (a painful heart) project in Kabul, Afghanistan July 6, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail
Members of the ArtLords sort letters of Dard-e-Dil (a painful heart) project in Kabul, Afghanistan July 6, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail
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