Down and out in Kabul Part 1 by Leah Grace O’Brien


Photo © A.K. Kimoto-All Rights Reserved

The ancient city resides in the northeastern part of the country, surrounded by magnificent mountain ranges and ancient trade routes. Dry, dusty, and shrouded in archaic beauty, Kabul is a 3,000 year old city which has born witness to invaders from as far away as Mongolia. Long before the Islamic Conquest, the inhabitants of Afghanistan practiced religions such as Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. It was once free, but has been invaded again by foreigners and their weapons.

The inhabitants of Kabul have long made a living selling dried fruit, nuts, leather, and ornate rugs. Those fortunate enough to sell such goods have become eclipsed by ongoing wars, and another insidious invader from within its own borders. The lovely and dangerous poppy.

UN estimates that 1 out of every 12 Afghans currently uses drugs. This number includes men, women, and children.The use of drugs in Afghanistan is double the world average. According to Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson over at NPR, “The soaring rates of drug abuse are driven in part by Afghanistan’s widespread unemployment and social upheaval under the Taliban and the U.S.-led war, begun in 2001. Another factor is the flood of returning Afghan refugees from Iran, many of whom became heroin addicts there.” (Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR). Afghanistan currently supplies 90% of the world’s opium. The statistics are staggering. Not only have the people of Kabul become addicted to these ancient plants, a large portion of the country has fallen under the precarious spell of the poppy plant, and it has brought them to their knees.



3 thoughts on “Down and out in Kabul Part 1 by Leah Grace O’Brien

  1. Reblogged this on El Literati and commented:
    A brilliant piece on the state of Kabul after years of bloodshed, massive emigration, followed by immigration. But all the while, poverty abounds and apathy greets Afghans who choose to stay in the region.

  2. Thank you. I will be working on this piece for the next few days. I feel strongly that these families need to be written about, and photographed. Their stories and struggles are too harrowing to ignore.

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