Afghanistan has been in the news a lot lately since the fall of Kabul to the Taliban over a month ago. Our TV screens show heartbreaking images of anxious people desperate to escape. Recently more than $1.6 billion has been pledged to help the Afghan people who are in desperate need of food, health care and protection. So during this turbulent time, with Afghan people living in turmoil, it was unique and exceptional timing for our Year 8 PE students to have the opportunity to hear from and ask questions of a health care worker from “Doctors without Borders” Tankred Stoebe – brother of Glenaeon’s PDHPE Teacher Jonas Stoebe - working on the ground in Afghanistan.
As Jonas explains, “My brother Tankred works for Doctors Without Borders around the world and I had organised for him to dial into our PE zoom lesson for an informative and interactive lesson in which he spoke about his work there and students could ask questions.
“Tankred has worked for MSF (Medecins sans Frontiers) for over 20 years and is currently in Afghanistan, Herat, for four weeks just when everyone has been trying to escape. After an introduction by me and a ‘happy to see you brother’ moment, Tankred spoke about the current situation in the country more broadly and also about his specific work and the health system’s need at the moment in Afghanistan.”
Students asked lots of good questions and Tankred was happy to answer all of them. He was able to dispel some myths and answer some challenging questions such as “Isn’t life super dangerous under the Taliban government?”, to which he replied that poverty, deprivation of basic human needs of most people haven’t changed at all and that life in the third biggest city in the country is not much different to what it was a year ago for most Afghanis.
Sadly, this does not include freedoms for women and girls which will be further restricted as the new authority gets into gear. Students learned that the Taliban currently accept aid work and Tankard reported that he saw no immediate danger to hospital staff. Yet, the whole situation is highly volatile.
Students were highly engaged in the session and asked how they could help. For students who have been having many Zoom sessions during lockdown in Sydney, this was certainly one that gave them a unique insight into life in Afghanistan during one of the country’s most defining and difficult times in history, and a timely reminder of our privilege to live where we do.
Immediately after the student Zoom with Tankred, he was interviewed on CNN News Channel. You can watch the interview here: CNN Newsroom with Robyn Curnow
For anyone wishing to support the work of MSF, please donate at www.msf.org.au, the Australian arm of the organisation.