Behind the Headlines

In the spring of 2008, Afghanistan was in the headlines about war and upheaval:  taliban forces regaining ground in the southern provinces, an uncontrolled opium market, insurgents moving freely across the border with Pakistan, suicide bombers reaching into the heart of the nation’s capital, Kabul.

Against the backdrop of these headlines, I traveled there primarily to photograph the work of Camilla Barry, a remarkable science teacher from my hometown of Mill Valley, California, who has been conducting science teacher trainings in Afghanistan since 2003. 

Throughout the course of this journey to Afghanistan, I photographed the work of many other agencies bringing education, health care, and humanitarian services to families who have survived three intense decades of war.  I gave them these images to use in their publicity, and was inspired to make a book about the experience when I returned home (now out of print).

What my camera captured in the midst of all of this war-torn devastation was a very different, more hopeful story.  Behind the grim headlines lives “another Afghanistan”: a country rich in history, culture, hospitality and hope. These images reveal a country where brave men and women are struggling to survive against tremendous odds, and are slowly rebuilding education, health care and housing.

It is a place where children increasingly go to school, skip rope, and blow bubble gum. This progress is fragile, and at great risk. But it deserves to be celebrated and protected.