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Promoting Democracy by Strengthening the Media - Deutsche Welle

Promoting Democracy by Strengthening the Media - Deutsche Welle

Carsten von

Carsten von Nahmen

IBRAHIMKHAIL SAFIULLAH TRAINER AND INTERPRETER After 17 years in exile in Germany, my first working trip for DW-AKADEMIE was also to be my first journey home. How can I describe the feeling that came over me while I was waiting for my flight from the military airport at Cologne/Bonn? I was returning home and had the opportunity to help with reconstruction efforts. I landed at the tiny, dusty airport of Kunduz, a town in northern Afghanistan. I was so excited I did not know whether to laugh or cry. My destination was the headquarters of Radio Television Afghanistan in Kunduz. I was scheduled to take part in an initial DW-AKADEMIE journalism training program as an interpreter. Were it not for the huge satellite dishes in the yard of the RTA building, nobody would have guessed that this was the television station in Kunduz. Inside the building, Afghan journal- ists were producing their reports using VHS technology: from a German point of view, not even home movie quality. Since there was very little space in which our journalism courses could take place, the director-general of RTA Kunduz made his own office available to us for two weeks as a seminar room. For him, training his staff was an absolute priority. Through the many years of war, few in Afghanistan had any chance of getting an education or vocational training. I was extremely impressed to observe how much the people there strive for knowledge. They have an awful lot to catch up on. They use every free minute to learn more. Many of them go to other classes immediately after our own training sessions, for example English-language or computer courses. And this despite the many obligations associ- ated with feeding their large families. All, men and women, went about their courses with great zeal. They concentrated hard, trying to learn all the time and then trying to put their newfound knowledge into practice. I could hardly believe that young women could be working so enthusiastically as journalists in Kunduz: until recently the town was a Taliban stronghold, in which television was taboo. One female journalist from Kunduz told me about the massive telephone and personal death threats to which she is exposed because of her work as a critical journalist. But these problems do not deter her from continuing to appear on television as a presenter and reporter. In order to provide the people of Afghanistan with information, she and her colleagues run these risks every day. 35

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