Film on effects of Afghanistan war clinches human rights award

It explores the legacy of devastation and trauma in Afghanistan and illustrates the consequences of the conflict, and the hunger, homelessness and lawlessness that it causes

October 14, 2010 | Web First
By Stephen Brown | Ecumenical News International
Geneva/Brussels

A documentary film exploring the consequences of war in Afghanistan, "The Garden at the End of the World", has earned a 2010 human rights award from two global Christian communication groups.

It explores the legacy of devastation and trauma in Afghanistan and illustrates the consequences of the conflict, and the hunger, homelessness and lawlessness that it causes.

The film was chosen by the World Association for Christian Communication, and SIGNIS, the World Catholic Association of Communication, as their joint Human Rights Award for 2010.

Directed by Australian film-maker Gary Caganoff, the documentary follows the activities of two women, Mahboba Rawi, a humanitarian worker, and Rosemary Morrow, an internationally recognised permaculturalist, whose work focuses on human settlement and sustainable agriculture. 

"Through the eyes of these remarkable women, Caganoff elicits stories and images of Afghanistan rarely seen before," WACC and SIGNIS said in a 12 October statement announcing the award. "Neither sentimental nor sensational, the film reaches into the dark depths and complexities of war torn Afghanistan."

The documentary shows how urban and rural families and communities have disintegrated after losing fathers, husbands, and brothers to 30 years of political conflict, poverty and the drug trade. 

Morrow, a Quaker, who lives in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, brings what has been called a holistic perspective to these experiences, emphasising the links between sustainability and genuine empowerment.

Mahboba Rawi, a refugee from the days of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, lives in Sydney, Australia. In 2001 she established a not-for-profit organization called Mahbobas Promise, to assist homeless widows and orphans. 

The film's Web site quotes Howard Bell, convenor of Australia's Central Coast Group of Amnesty International, describing the film as "a creative masterpiece both in human rights film making and exceptionally effective use of film to reflect both the human rights atrocities and manifest social justice failures being experienced every day by the Afghan women and children". 

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