Visions of Kabul

On Monday we leave for Kabul.  The first trip to Afghanistan and the first trip on behalf of Mountain to Mountain.

Our primary focus is to meet with the staff with AINA and the Afghan photojournalists that are represented by the AINA Photo Agency.  AINA’s focus is on empowering media and communication.  Through filmmaking, photography, radio, journalism, and design, AINA trains, produces, and empowers individuals and communities to speak out and make sustainable changes within Afghanistan.

Mountain to Mountain has created a photography exhibit, Views of Afghanistan, with the help of some of the world’s top war photographers.  This show will showcase several Afghan photographers alongside Western photojournalists with a long history of working inside Afghanistan.   Proceeds from the show will go to benefit AINA to create a sustainable and profitable agency that continues to empower, train, and provide outlets for Afghan photojournalism and media.

Our second tier focus is meetings with other NGO’s; Turquoise Mountain, Afghans for Tomorrow, Be Peace, and develop a better understanding of how local NGO’s are working in the current climate throughout Afghanistan.  Our focus with Mountain to Mountain has been with sustainable girls education in remote mountain communities and we’d like to see where we can continue this work in Afghanistan in years to come.

Our third tier is more cultural than non profit.  We are taking in a game of buzkashi (a cross of horse polo and rugby), meeting with a master kite maker, and also with a burqa maker.  We are meeting with artisans and architects with Turquoise Mountain.  All with the desire to illustrate stories of traditional Afghan sports and culture that is thriving in the post-Taliban era that we can pitch to different media outlets outside of Afghanistan, in the hope of shining a light on the people and stories that are often shelved in lieu of war and terrorism stories.

It all comes around to the focus of Mountain to Mountain’s outreach at home: storytelling.  Through traditional storytelling, photography, poetry, education, and multimedia, we want to break stereotypes and bring our projects to life, with the goal of garnering more support and donations for our projects.

Dari is the most common language in Kabul and I have been practicing my pronunciation with an ex-Peace Corps friend who worked in Afghanistan in the sixties.  It feels quite natural and I am enjoying the process much more than I have when I learned French and German.  So I am feeling confident in my pigeon-Dari and hope to practice more with our translator, Najibullah.  I am hoping to go to a few areas of the city where only women are allowed and will not be allowed in with my male translator.

After all the planning, its hard to believe we are going to be in the air while our own country is casting its vote for our new president.   I am anxious to see how the result is received in Afghanistan firsthand, fingers crossed that it is received positively.

Many thanks for all of the support and good wishes and please stay tuned for daily blogs from Kabul starting November 5th.

Shannon

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