Received this from my friend working in Kabul:
Thanks for your emails - nice to get news from home etc...
Well, here I am in the capital of Afghanistan - quite an odd feeling.
I'll keep this short, but what can I tell you about Kabul? On the one hand alot of it is still incredibly run down. 23 years of almost continual conflict has certainly taken it's toll. But there is a lot of rebuilding work going on here. For every burnt out shell there is a new pile of bricks gradually being made into a new residence.
It's the cliche of the 'traveller' but people are incredibly friendly, and are keen to find out whatr you think of their country. Even though I've been here a short time, I have a huge respect for these people. They've been through hell, but have never given up and the overall feel of the city is relatively optimistic.
The work I've been doing has been interesting but I have never such an array of sad stories. The charity I'm working with run a series of projects for women where they are paid for making quilts and have lessons in literacy, women's rights, sanitation etc. Most are widows.
One lady I interviewed this morning said first her husband was killed by a Mujahadeen rocket, and then two years later she lost most of her family via a Taliban mortar during a wedding celebration. She survived, and was left looking after 12 children - some of her own and some of deceased family members. Despite such an appaling tragedy she speaks optimistically of the future and looks froward to helping other with her new found skills. Stories like this stop you dead in your tracks. How people can cope with such circumstances is really beyond my comprehension.
Anyway, I'll end here and tell you more on my return. I'll probably email again from Karachi and attempt to send some images. If not I'll forward them when I'm back on the 5th.
All the best and speak soon