USAID-funded Afghan Youth Voices Festival runs a nationwide poetry competition where hundreds of young poets celebrate a rich tradition of poetry writing in Afghanistan.
Afghan youth have been deprived of educational opportunities and forms of expression due to decades of political and economic turmoil. USAID funds the Youth Voices Festival, which provides a forum for youth across the country to express themselves through art, poetry, photography, and a variety of new and tradional media tools. In 2011 alone, the Festival worked directly with over 2,000 young men and women, providing them with a crucial platform to amplify their voice.
Poetry has traditionally served as a source of expression and celebration in Afghanistan culture and society. Afghan Youth Voices Festival ran a nationwide poetry competition for hundreds of young poets last year, and the winning poems were published in an anthology, entitled “Voices of Peace.” To mark the release of the book and share the inspiring outcomes of the Festival, a poetry reading was recently held in Kabul.
Zainab Safari, who won the competition, found the opportunity immensely rewarding. “I write because that is the only way I can express my feelings,” she said. "When I met other people at the Afghan Youth Voices Festival, I was encouraged to write more because I felt that I am not alone."
Speaking in front of over 60 youths attending the poetry reading, Taimoor Shah Eshaqzai, Deputy Minister of Information and Culture for Youth Affairs, said: “I am so glad young people today are building peace through newly learned communication skills. It makes me very proud to see that young people are the only ones actively thinking and writing about peace. They are the ones who will build and maintain the peace in this country.”
Young Afghan Poetess Wins Contest