Deborah Rodriguez is an American novelist who took the remarkable decision to move from the USA to Afghanistan in 2002 shortly after the outbreak of war in that country. She has since described this experience as a “vacation with a purpose”, which she decided to take after becoming increasingly frustrated with her job as a prison guard and all the trappings of a comfortable western lifestyle. Debbie was part of the first team that the non-profit Care For All Foundation sent out to Afghanistan after war broke.
After settling into life in Kabul, Debbie was involved in the setting up of a beauty school training programme whose aim was to enable Afghan women to set up and work in beauty parlours, regardless of their ethnicity, background or personal circumstances. Debbie also ran a coffee shop during her time in Afghanistan and drew on the experiences she had at that time while writing her best-selling novel The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul (Random House, 2011), which she reads from and talks about in this podcast.
Debbie makes no claims to be presenting a factual record of life in Kabul at a time of war, rather a series of could-have-beens and might-have-beens and characters inspired by people she encountered: both ex-pats and Afghans. The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul succeeds both in showing us how challenging, and sometimes even downright awful, the lives of both western and Afghan women can be, but also how they are all equally capable of tremendous resilience and the determination to never give up and to constantly strive for a better life for themselves and their families.
To find out more about Deborah Rodriguez and her work, visit her website.
Claire Hart has two great loves: art and communication. She enjoys communicating about art. Breaking down and exploring barriers to communication is how she earns her living. She lives her life partly in German and partly in English, but always in colour.