KABUL (AFP) - Despite grinding poverty and more than three decades of war, a New York-based artist believes 10,000 pink balloons can help bring peace and happiness to Afghans on the streets of Kabul.
Yazmany Arboleda has already unleashed coloured balloons in India, Japan and Kenya. He hopes that Afghanistan can be the next to benefit from "simple happiness" despite being in the grip of an 11-year Taleban insurgency.
"The actual date will be a surprise. Once people will wake up, they will see an explosion of colours," he told a news conference on Monday.
Although the majority of the estimated four million who live in Kabul struggle with poverty and war, Mr Arboleda spoke of the pleasures a simple coloured balloon could bring.
"In India, people thought it was a national day they didn't know about. In Japan, some people thought we were selling balloons. In Kenya, some of them thought we were having a job fair.
"But when people realise that balloons are given away and that they don't have to pay for it, they smile. The idea of this project is to bring simple happiness."
The balloons each cost US$1 (S$1.2)and are bought by 10,000 donors online at www.webelieveinballoons.com who "represent 10,000 people who believe in culture and art and not war", said Mr Arboleda.
Afghanistan's deputy youth minister, Taimor Shah Ishaqzai, said the project was a message of peace for his country, which has largely been at war since 1980.
US-led NATO combat troops are due to leave Afghanistan next year.
Some, particularly those in Kabul, fear a return to civil war or a power-sharing arrangement with the Taleban.