Tuesday, September 22, 2009

'A woman is a woman. She is God's creation.'

A woman is a woman. She is God's creation.
~ Homaira, 40, Mother of 5, Profiled in "Behind the Veil"

Too few of us take time to learn about the people in the nations where the U.S. is at war, people whose lives are punctuated with fear, insecurity, poverty, lack of services, illiteracy, and the daily, unceasing barrage of gunfire or exploding bombs. Their wrecked lives have no equivalent for us. As Homaira, the illiterate mother of five who is forbidden to work, says during filming of a powerful documentary on Afghani women, "How can we know what will happen next?"

So rarely do we see their faces. The faces are behind the veil. Behind the veil, the stories are told.

Jessica Leeder, a Globe reporter in Afghanistan, aims not to remove the veil but to give us a glimpse behind it. Her reporting, produced as a series called Behind the Veil: An Intimate Journey Into the Lives of Kandahar's Women, should be made available as widely as possible, shown in high schools, before church groups, in Congress.

The lives of the women whom Leeder profiles (Homaira is one) are as "disturbing" as they are pock-marked by the "mundane", as unsettling as they are hopeful.

Watching these videos, I focus on the eyes, try to catch the tone of voice, quickly read the words in translation on the screen. . . and come away asking, where does the hope come from?

The answer, perhaps, is in Homaira's utterly optimistic, if heart-breaking, refrain: "A woman is a woman. She is God's creation."

Faith knows no bounds.

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