The Face of Afghanistan (2) - Foreword

In 2003, just after the allied forces had routed the Taliban from Afghanistan, I joined a group of volunteers from Right To Play to establish a program in Kabul. Their mission was to restore a modicum of decency through sport and play for those children who had been deprived of almost everything. It was, with great foresight, an attempt to stop the re-growth of violence without using the conventional military or humanitarian aid means.

Some of the "cliff notes" of that trip, as well as some of the photos, are here. Ultimately, this was an attempt to share the story of Afghanistan told by those who live it every day. More than a decade later, they still feel contemporary.

..."Their portraits are perhaps a good way to narrate what it means to be Afghan in the early twenty-first century, to be living in one of most atrociously poor and dangerous places on earth, in the richest world society on record.

In Afghanistan, misery creeps out of every line in the old man’s frown, out of the children’s smile. Afghanistan is one of the five poorest countries in the world; Afghans live on average with two US dollars a day. To this, they must add appalling housing conditions, lack of safe water for both people and agriculture, and a vicious cycle of scarce education and work opportunity.

Cause and effect of this barbaric situation, Afghanistan is one of the most fearsome places in the world: fear of death of your children at birth, fear of fatal illness, fear of starvation, fear of others; both when you are a woman being mistreated by men, or you are a man being trodden upon by the rich or the armed. Fear of tomorrow.

It is not all Afghanistan’s fault. Beside many other factors that make this country naturally prone to poverty, Afghanistan has long been sitting on one of the main fault lines between eastern and western blocks. US-backed Mujaheddin guerrilla and USSR domination finally set the stage for civil war and the Taliban. In many respects, Afghanistan's present is a living legacy of the Cold War, of our own past."

[continue reading The Face of Afghanistan]
[see the video]
[see the photo gallery]


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