By Chris Crowstaff, Safeworld Founder
Human rights work can feel exhausting at times. But, however tired I feel, I am continuously inspired by others who face great dangers to dedicate their lives to humanitarian work. My life, in comparison, is easy.
I have learnt a lot in the last week, since first hearing of the brutal murder of Farida Afridi, in Pakistan, near the northern borders with Afghanistan.
I have learnt how many people are ready to reach out with messages of condolence and support, especially when there is a personal connection involved.
I have been reminded again how important it is for families, friends and co-workers, to feel the support of the global community.
And I continue to be astounded by the courage of human rights defenders to carry on working, defiantly, despite extreme danger and threats.
Following my blog last week, in a few hours we received around a hundred messages and condolences to be passed on to Noorzia and to the family.
Mr Zar Ali Khan Afridi, chair of the Consortium, sent me a worrying reply, expressing grave concern that human rights defenders and NGO workers in the region are in increasing danger from militants, particularly those working for women's equality. Nevertheless, he was grateful for the communication.
I asked Mr Khan Afridi if he could find out whether the family had received the condolence messages I had emailed, and I sent them to him also, in case they hadn't received them.
I did not receive a reply for a couple of days, which worried me. But on Wednesday, Mr Khan Afridi emailed and confirmed that he was able to pass on the messages. He reassured me that the delay in replying was due to electricity problems in the region and that if he doesn't respond sometimes in future, it is because of power cuts.
However, still anxious for Mr Khan Afridi's safety, I asked what sort of media coverage would be helpful, if any. He confirmed that I could pass his phone number to the media, and that he had indeed already spoken to the Washington Post, amongst others. He wrote courageously to me about the defiance of the human rights workers in the region, and gave me permission to quote him here:
"We will never leave our poor people especially women and children alone to monsters. We are highly obliged to all those who remember us. Our struggle will continue.
It is tue that we are helpless and poor at the time but it never means that we will leave our path of love, peace prosperity and development for our people and women.
We are highly obliged to you for your kind words for martyred Farida and me as well."
Mr Khan Afridi talked of Farida's aging father:
"Her father who is i think octogenerian at the time is a poor man but his courage is as high as of a mountain standing before their home."
Zar Ali Khan Afridi sent photos of the 'protest memorial' held at the Peshawar press club, two days previously.
He explained that everyone depicted at the protest were all members of the Tribal NGOs Consortium, except Rashid Hussain, who was the only son of the Information Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government. The Taliban had subsequently claimed responsibility for Mr Hussain's murder.
I asked if people could send gifts to Farida Afridi's family and, if so, what was the best way.
"If people like to send gifts to the family of Farida Afridi's family they should rest assure that their gifts could be conveyed to the family of deseased. The easy and accessible address is of the office of Tribal NGOs Consortium."
I also asked if it had been decided yet whether SAWERA would be continuing, in spite of the tragic and shocking loss and the obvious dangers.
The following day, on Thursday, Mr Khan Afridi wrote to say that it was confirmed that SAWERA is to continue.
"SAWERA will keep up its activities for the uplift of the women and will continue with the mission of martyred Farida Afridi".
Safeworld has now launched a 'Farida Fund.' All donations will be passed to Farida Afridi's organisation, SAWERA, minus the cost of monetary transfer.