Dar Jostujo-e Khana/In Search of Home

Dar Jostujo-e Khana/In Search of Home

Traditional Post-Conflict Grant

Afghanistan Photographers Association, 2022 Finalist

A proposal by six Afghan photographers, within and without Afghanistan, to show how Afghans are rebuilding their lives under the Taliban regime and as refugees abroad.

Chanting, “justice and freedom,” a crowd of Afghan women march to protest the Taliban’s violent and discriminatory practices. The new rules imposed by the Taliban threaten gender equality and women’s freedom to education and work, Kabul, Afghanistan, September 4, 2021.

 

Nearly seven months after the Taliban’s takeover of the country, women have organized various protests in Kabul and other provinces calling for equal rights, freedom, and justice. Using violence and intimidation, the Taliban have put a stop to each protest. Photo by Mahdi Frotan

In Kabul, the Kandahar buzkashi team celebrates their victory over the Kunduz team at a provincial buzkashi tournament in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, March 6, 2022.

 

Buzkashi, a traditional game that has managed to survive Taliban rule. Buzkashi literally translates to “goat pulling.” Played on horseback or yak back, riders compete for control of a headless goat, or “ball,” to score points for themselves or their team. This game is also played in Central Asian countries like Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Photo by Mahdi Frotan

This old Afghan salesman is a survivor of the Hoot 24 revolution of 1979, Herat, Afghanistan, 2019.

 

The Uprising of 24th Hoot, a local uprising of people against the then Afghan government (Democratic Republic of Afghanistan) took place in and around the city of Herat in western Afghanistan and lasted several days during March 1979. The locals seized and held the city for approximately a week before the regime retook it with government forces using aerial bombardment. As a result, the recapture of Herat left 3,000 to 25,000 of its inhabitants dead. Photo by Morteza Herati

An Afghan woman tries to earn a living by selling second-hand items on the street. Here she rests with her child on a sidewalk in Herat, Afghanistan, 2019.

 

The high rate of poverty in Herat severely impacts people living in this western province of Afghanistan. Herat is Afghanistan’s third-largest city and many people here struggle to earn enough money for food, clothing, and electricity. This is the difficult reality of life across the country, and for Herat in particular. Based on a World Bank report, one in every two people in Afghanistan lives below the national poverty line. Photo by Morteza Herati

In 24 Hoot square, a tank left by the Soviet army stands as a symbol of the 1979 revolution, Herat, Afghanistan, 2019.

 

The Uprising of 24th Hoot, a local uprising of people against the then Afghan government (Democratic Republic of Afghanistan) took place in and around the city of Herat in western Afghanistan and lasted several days during March 1979. The locals seized and held the city for approximately a week before the regime retook it with government forces using aerial bombardment. As a result, the recapture of Herat left 3,000 to 25,000 of its inhabitants dead. Photo by Morteza Herati

On street in Herat, a minibus driver fights with a passenger who did not pay, Afghanistan, 2019.

 

The high rate of poverty in Herat severely impacts people living in this western province of Afghanistan. Herat is Afghanistan’s third-largest city and many people here struggle to earn enough money for food, clothing, and electricity. This is the difficult reality of life across the country, and for Herat in particular. Based on a World Bank report, one in every two people in Afghanistan lives below the national poverty line. Photo by Morteza Herati

A man and his two daughters watch from a minibus one of Heart’s squares, Afghanistan, 2019. Photo by Morteza Herati

Ali Sina (11 years old) stands at the top of Chehel Dokhtaran mountain in Kabul, Afghanistan, January 8, 2022.

 

Passionate about music, primarily the Dambura, Ali says he has no hope for the future now that art and music have been banned by the Taliban, who view music as Haram (unlawful based on the Taliban’s harsh interpretation of Islam). Many musicians and artists have faced a similar fate since the Taliban return to power in mid-August, 2021. Photo by Mahdi Frotan

An old Afghan man rests in a quiet corner while his shotgun leans against the wall at his feet. Herat, Afghanistan, 2019. Photo by Fariba Akbari

Portrait of a little Afghan girl in Daikundi, Afghanistan, March 23, 2021. Photo by Jafar Rahimi

Muhammad Khan eats breakfast with his children inside a brick factory in the Sarhrood district of Nangarhar, Afghanistan, October 6, 2021.

 

Despite a substantial amount of money invested by the international community over the past two decades, Afghanistan remains a deeply poor country. Based on a World Bank report, one in every two people in Afghanistan lives below the national poverty line, and four out of five people live in rural areas – with lowest per capita consumption and highest likelihood of poverty. Photo by Ghulamullah Habibi

A Hazara child washes his face near his home, Ghor, Afghanistan, April 8, 2020.

 

Hazara are one of the main ethnic groups of Afghanistan living primarily in the central regions, as well as across the country. Mostly Shi’as, ethnic Hazaras have a long history of persecution and have faced violence and systematic discrimination from various extremist groups, like the Taliban and the Islamic State. Khorasan, Afghanistan. Photo by Jafar Rahimi

 

Photographer's Statement: 

In August of 2021, the Taliban again swept through Afghanistan with a speed that stunned people at home and around the world. Images of panic and fear were shared internationally as the Afghan people desperately looked for exit routes. A lucky number made it out of Afghanistan, but many more did not.

 

Among the those who made it out, and those who did not, are photographers who belong to the who belong to the collective, Afghanistan Photographers Association (APA). This project will document the stories of Afghans rebuilding their lives as refugees in countries around the world, and as subjects of the restrictive Taliban regime within Afghanistan.

 

Six Afghan photographers, now living in countries around the world (France, the Netherlands, Canada, USA) and within Afghanistan, will capture the lives of Afghan people as they rebuild their lives after living through conflict, the Taliban takeover, and now as refugees abroad. They will document the successes, setbacks and struggles, big and small, that make up the daily lives of Afghan refugees as they search for and create a new home—away from home.

 

These six photographers will work alongside a contributing mentor, Farzana Wahidy, who has worked on projects internationally and within Afghanistan for 20 years.

 

Over the years, the images of Afghanistan seen worldwide have been predominantly produced by Western media. Even more so now, with many Afghan photographers seeking asylum to protect their life and the lives of their families plus the Taliban policy of restricting Afghan media access. APA supports Afghan photographers as they work to document the Afghan experience from an Afghan perspective, The photo options for this project are endless, but the stories are bound together by a shared experience of losing /leaving home and not knowing if return will ever be possible.

 

Photographing the search for home may take the photographers from shopping excursions and attempting to cook/tasting unfamiliar foods to the results of language barriers and bearing the weight of those left behind, to the housing situation, the paperwork trail, and the reactions of  their new community and country.

 

Our photographers in Afghanistan will photograph people from all walks of life who have lost their homes to the Taliban regime, those who have been internally displaced by conflict as they try to rebuild, as well as those who continue their efforts to leave the country.

 

For over 40 years, the Afghan people have endured conflict after conflict, including the overthrow of King Mohammed Zahir Shar by President Mohammad Daud Khan supported by the People’s Democratic Party in 1973, the Soviet Union invasion in 1979, the Mujahideen civil war, and the Taliban’s first rise to power in 1994, followed by the US-led mission in 2001.

 

During these periods of conflict, waves of Afghans fled their homeland to settle around the world. For example, during the Soviet occupation, the violence prompted an exodus of nearly 3.5 million Afghans to Pakistan and 2.5 million to Iran. Afghan refugees have now spread to many countries around the world.

 

After decades of war, with millions of Afghans having fled their homes, the refugee experience in now a substantial chapter of the Afghan story, one that has never been comprehensively documented, and seldom from the perspective of Afghan photographers. Our photographers will create a visual anthology of Afghan refugee experiences from around the world that can continue to be added to in future. We hope that this anthology of photos will allow the viewer to see past cultural differences, and past the labels of victim and refugee—to see the human being.

 

Afghanistan Photographers Association
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Afghanistan
Photographers Association
The Afghanistan Photographers Association (APA) is a cultural and educational association. Its activities are non-profit and non-political, and we support all national and international photographers throughout Afghanistan, as well as Afghan photographers abroad.
The Association has been registered since 2016 with the Afghanistan Ministry of Culture and Information. Its goals are to advocate, train, and promote photographers and photography within Afghanistan and beyond.

 

Photographers