war and conflict multimedia reporting

The Afghan Future – the children

When traveling within Afghanistan it’s inevitable that you’ll meet kids.
Driving through the landscape with soldiers in an armored vehicle or walking on patrols, the children stop and stare or they come up to you and ask for a pen or to say hello.
These kids are used to war. Their country has been at war for their whole life. They all live close to the battlefield as there is no real battlefield in Afghanistan.
It’s everywhere surrounding them. They might have lost a family member or seen someone die. As troubling as that might sound they seem curious and full of trust.
And they smile. They are Afghanistan’s future.

(see photos below)

The little redheaded girl lives on the outskirts of Gereshk in Helmand province.
Her qalat – the Afghan word for house – is situated between an area known as the Green zone and an ISAF military base (Armadillo/renamed Budwan).

The Green Zone is the area where Taliban is know to hide. The shores of the Helmand river is green with vegetation – hence the name.
In the green the Taliban are able to hide from the ISAF soldiers patrolling the area.

When I met the girl, the soldiers told me that her sister had been killed recently.
One morning she woke up, walked outside their qalat and immediately stepped on a mine. She was killed instantly.
According to the soldiers, the Taliban had placed IED’s outside the walat because they believed the father was working for ISAF.
The girls killers have never been found.

The redheaded girl was playing outside the qalat the day I walked by with a group of soldiers. She seemed wary as to why I – as a woman –
was wearing a helmet and not a veil.
I asked what her name was. She put her hand in her mouth – afraid that I might hurt her. Her father took her hand away.
“Stop looking silly,” he said. Everyone laughed. The girl gave a shy smile.

Curious Afghans
The kids of Afghanistan are curious. For them it might be the first time they ever see a blond woman wearing body armor, helmet and a camera.
They are still smiling at me, even though I must be from out-of-space. They are probably wondering what on earth I am doing there and how I am able to capture them in my camera.
Most of them have probably never seen themselves as they look. When you live in a house made of clay – are you worried about a mirror?
They laugh when they see themselves or their friends, pointing fingers and shouting: “Look at him.”

The hospital in the city of Gereshk don’t have enough medical staff and it’s too small for the 50.000 or so inhabitants of the city. Every day for a few hours the military camp nearby offers treatment by a western doctor.
Children and grownups are waiting in line outside the ISAF base Price. They are there to see the doctors inside the camp. Women and children sits on one side and men on the other.
The women wearing veils is trying to avoid being photographed – the kids would do anything to have their picture taken.

(click on photos to enlarge)


One response

  1. Kory

    It’s nice to hear news and stories from someone who’s not as known as others. It feels more trustworthy and believable. I liked reading about the children in Afghanistan, especially the part about the dad telling the girl to stop looking silly.

    January 28, 2014 at 11:52 pm

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