When I first visited Afghanistan in 2003, the Taliban had gone, there was peace on the streets, and a palpable sense of hope. When I returned in 2009, I began the process of creating a book for the Government of Afghanistan called ‘Faces of Hope’, for the Kabul International Conference to be held in 2010.
I remember walking the streets of Kabul one evening in November 2003 and remarking that of course hundreds of thousands of Taliban, hadn’t just given up and disappeared. Lose your mascara and your black turban, and you are just another Afghan biding your time. Which they did.
Each year that I returned, that palpable sense of hope dissipated, it just burned away during those sweltering Afghan summers, turned to ice in the winter.
I lived with an Afghan family throughout those times, people I grew to love. The patriarch of the family died last year. The house is in ruins, the kids work the fields, thrown into a life of poverty. When I look at my pictures from that time, I wonder what became of all the nameless faces that shared my days as I travelled the country.
I know that my translator was attacked and fled for his life, settling in Holland, and that my Afghan family are no more - but for the rest, I can only assume that the sun has set on that all too brief and nascent hope, to be subsumed by the dimming of the day.
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