1. My name is Abdul Nabii

    I am 30 years old and I am ice-cream salesman. I left Ghazni to find work in Kabul. I’ve been an ice cream seller for around twelve months. My typical day starts around 7am. First I go to the local depot in Khai Khana to load up my cart with a selection of fruity ice pops and chocolate covered ice cream. There are around twenty other sellers. Once we’ve filled up our carts we head off out into the streets. We all have our own territory.

    During the summer the streets are very crowded. On a good day I can earn around 400Afs. I work on a 20% commission of ices sold. Prices start from 5Afs and the most expensive is the chocolate at 15Afs. The most popular item is the watermelon flavoured ice cream.

    The kids might like me but I absolutely hate my job. The sound of the tinny megaphone is like ‘a dick in his brain’.

    # vimeo.com/54585185 Uploaded 51 Plays 0 Comments
  2. My name is Mohammed Afzal. I am the Afghan Golf Club trainer of Afghanistan.

    I was eight years old when I came to Qargha and saw people playing golf. I had come here for a picnic with my family. Then one foreigner helped me – I hit one ball and he was very happy. He said to me, come and play golf. And he helped me set the tee, ball, clubs, everything.

    When I was 14 years old, a Pakistan golf champion from Peshawar came to Afghanistan by invitation of the foreigners to teach the Afghan golf team. The foreigners who knew me said, “The team is Afghan, therefore the teacher should be Afghan.”

    So we had a contest for three days. For the first two days, we tied. On the third day I defeated the Pakistani. So at the age of 14 I was selected to teach the Afghan golf team.

    When the Russians were here, I went to jail for six months. They said, “You work for the foreigners.” They thought I was a spy.

    If we had grass, my hundred students who learn golf here would increase to thousands.

    Then during the Taliban I was in prison for two months. Someone told them that I used to associate with the foreigners. So because of golf, they put me in prison for two months.

    Even in the prison I played golf – I would swing without a driver.

    During all these wars that happened in Afghanistan, our golf course was destroyed. There were tanks, bomb, bullets all over the course. We came back when Karzai came to power. I didn’t even recognise the place.

    After the deminers collected all the munitions from here, for about five days I paid for about two thousand sheep. I let them walk in the field so if there were any mines they would explode. We didn’t find any.

    This is the only golf club in Afghanistan. Back in the day, we had grass on the course. All the foreign embassies were helping us at the time – England, America, Japan, Germany.

    Now we make the “green” with sand and wasted oil. I have created it all on my own. It is soft, like grass – the ball stops the same as it would with grass.

    But we want to have grass again. Maybe we’ll start next month for it to be ready for next season. The season is from around April to December. The Olympic Federation – we joined last year – gave some money to help make the golf course grass. Not too much money, you know. We still need the foreigner people to help.

    If we had grass, my hundred students who learn golf here would increase to thousands. I don’t charge my students a fee. Some start from the age of seven, eight. And some have entered international competitions.

    Mullah Ezat is a member of parliament who pays for everything for the golf club. For the last six years he has paid for all the equipment and he pays for my expenses – enough for me and my family.

    I am 52. I have played golf my whole life. All my family, friends, and relatives play golf. I have two sons and three daughters. My sons – 15 and 8 years old – both play golf. Last year my son won the trophy here from the tournament.

    Recently I was invited to play golf in Dubai and I met Tiger Woods, which made me very happy. I like people who like golf and I asked him to come to Afghanistan and to visit our golf club but I haven’t heard from him yet. If he hears me, I ask him to please come visit us.

    # vimeo.com/54585184 Uploaded 32 Plays 0 Comments
  3. My name is Abdul Khetab

    I am Khebtab! The greatest Kaka in the whole of Afghanistan. I am a bird fighter. I am a gambler. Which comes first? I don’t know.

    On Fridays we make the kowks fight in Shar-e-now Park. I have opponents there. We sometimes bet up to $200 on a single fight. I have been betting for about 50 years. I love the betting. Fuck the fighting. It is the money that is important, not the birds. My bird lost this week. It won ten fights last winter. People wanted to buy it for $3000 but I didn’t give it to them. Now I had to sell it for $1000 because it lost.

    I love my birds a lot. After God, they keep me alive. A good bird can fight for three days in a row, non-stop. It can get really hurt. It goes blind and blood covers its body. But my lovely birds fight until the end.

    The best bird fighting was during the Taliban time. They would even provide security for us. I am not scared of the Taliban, the Russians, or anyone else. I don’t care about any of these regimes. Regimes change, but I have always been here.

    I used to gamble with cards behind the Pul-e-khisti mosque all night. Betting does count as gambling. It’s not righteous in Islam, but I never spend my winnings at home. If I have won one million Afghani or one Afghani I give my money to the people. I am a Kharabat. When I go home, all the kids follow me and ask me for almonds.

    I have made a lot of money – more than what I weigh – but I lost it all. I used to gamble 24 hours. I was starting in the morning and would gamble till evening. But anything I have found in life, I have lost in gambling. If I had won I wouldn’t live in a rental house. I don’t want to gamble anymore. I am getting old, and I want to go to Hajj. I don’t like money. I only ask God for my daily expenses. I haven’t worked in 20 years. I get my expenses from my sons.

    I spend a lot. I get 40,000 Afs monthly from my sons and I spend it in less than twenty days. Sometimes, I have 50,000 Afs in my pocket in the morning but I go home with nothing.

    I have just one wife and 13 children. Two have died. I love my kids. They all support my habit. I am 68 years old but I feel like a teenager. If I married again, I would probably make ten more children. Look at me, how fresh I am.

    What’s valuable in life for me is to pray five times a day, to be good to your neighbours, and to have a good attitude. I try to never get upset in life. I have even stopped smoking cigarettes. I stopped because they said on the television “smokers die young”. I used to smoke two packs a day! I have stopped smoking, gambling in cards, and everything. But this bird-fight betting is still in my ass.

    # vimeo.com/54585183 Uploaded 52 Plays 0 Comments
  4. My name is Naheed Farid.

    I am the youngest MP in Parliament. I am a representative of Herat province. I also consider myself a representative of youth and women.

    I was the first girl from our family or tribe to leave Afghanistan and go to Europe to study.
    After I got married I did my Masters in America. My education in America, as an Afghan woman, was really interesting to me. I had entered a society with a completely different system. I had entered the land of opportunities, something that never existed in Afghanistan.

    I found opportunity in the path of politics, and I stepped in that path. There’s a lack of healthy leadership and politics in Afghanistan, and I thought even with small steps, I could make a difference. My steps were not steady in the beginning. I was afraid to be in this field. I was afraid for my family, my husband and my child to become victims of this path of politics.

    My campaign holds both sweet and bitter memories for me.

    I felt like I was giving hope to women and youth. It was like I was opening a path for them. Particularly women and girls – they were asking me to be their representative – to open up a way for them to step into politics. I really hope I can live up to this responsibility.

    I saw some shocking things when I was traveling for my campaign – graveyards full of women who had died in childbirth, villages with children who had never bathed. It made me more determined to win and give these people a voice.

    The people who really campaigned for me were young children. Some I had met and others I hadn’t. They persuaded their parents to vote for me. I was receiving so many phone calls from parents saying they had heard about me from their children and that they would support me.

    During my campaign I couldn’t really be a mother to my child. It really saddened me to know that I wasn’t looking after her the way she needed me to.

    I received so many threats that I had to stop the campaign towards the end. I got messages saying that Taliban were waiting to attack me. I was restricted to just one district in Herat. I had to ask for military protection. My family was also affected by the security problems. I had to take my daughter out of kindergarten because of the threat. This is still an issue now, my friends ask me to be careful; to employ a bodyguard and keep a gun in the car. But I hate such things.

    I work in Parliament from 9am until 4pm but that is only one part of the work. Since MPs are representatives of people, we have meetings with many different groups. Often we’re home only 3 or 4 nights a week. Sometimes we have meetings until 11pm. I cannot say yes to every invitation or request, otherwise I would never be at home. I don’t like disappointing my supporters this way.

    The image I had for a government of nation building, transparency, and anti-corruption is pale now because there are people inside parliament who work against these things.

    Many of the women MPs come from insecure areas and they cannot work for their people the way they want to. Security is still a big issue. These women are those who 10 years ago did not have the right to go to school, to work, to the bazaar, even to hospital. We try to be united to push women’s issues to the front.

    But it’s really hard for a commander, who is now an MP, a person that has never cared about women’s values and has always talked with guns. Now he must sit next to me; he gets 3 minutes to talk and I get 3 minutes. I have the right to speak, and he has to hear my voice. This is a different vision towards women.

    Young people represent the new identity for Afghanistan. They can show that we are not only the country of violence and blood, but a country of peace. They have big dreams for this country. I am calling on the youth of Afghanistan to be more engaged in politics, to debate and campaign so that they too can help make the change.

    # vimeo.com/54571257 Uploaded 209 Plays 0 Comments
  5. My name is Mohammad Naim.

    I am 21 years old and I police the Ring of Steel in Kabul at Checkpoint No 24. I’ve been a policeman for two years. Ever since I can remember I have wanted do this. I have achieved what I wished for. If I hadn’t become a policeman I would have joined the army. These two jobs are what I’m interested in, they let me serve my county and protect my people. This is my duty, I am an Afghan – every Afghan should serve their country. I don’t mind which department I work for; as long as it’s governmental work I will fight for my country until my last drop of blood.

    Since the day I have worn this uniform I have been proud. People really have respect for us because we work for security. Police are servants to the society.

    I am so happy with this job and I won’t quit being a policeman until the last day I am able to work. When we are on duty we put on the uniform and we must work – whether day or night, in peace or conflict. If someone sees a criminal, it’s every Afghan’s duty to catch that criminal. There are a thousand different types of people I come into contact with, some of them good and some are drunken and dirty but I get on with most individuals and do my job.

    During my working hours I don’t do anything without a command from someone higher than me, but if I am off duty I would catch any criminal I saw if I was able to. I would never just ignore crime and turn a blind eye. We face people who have money and power, but if we see then behaving badly we refer them to our commanders to deal with.

    I don’t worry about all the dangerous possibilities: being killed or stepping on a mine, getting caught by a criminal or the Taliban because I am a policeman. I would be proud that I had died in the path of serving my country.

    It doesn’t matter if the work is 24 hours a day. I am young. This cold winter that has just passed was very cold. Sometimes I can’t feel my hands or feet. But it is a matter of pride to stand there at the crossroads all these rainy and snowy nights. It gives me a good feeling to know our people and build our country alongside them. All this cold and snow is nothing to me.

    Some people say Kabul’s a jungle. But there are good people as well as bad. Things are changing here. There is better security and streetlights. Our country will be better and we will have peace. I hope that one day we can provide security for ourselves.

    There is some corruption in the police; some of our brothers take bribes. This is something the higher officers should be concerned about. This country won’t be built if there is corruption. I personally have never taken a bribe from my people, not a single Afghani. I hope my hands never act in bribery, crime or betrayal. I am thankful for my job and salary.

    # vimeo.com/54571252 Uploaded 43 Plays 0 Comments

Kabul at Work

At Work PRO

Kabul: A City At Work is a multi-media project, led by a joint international and Afghan crew collecting interviews, photographic portraits and video shorts of the people of Kabul in their working environments.

These small yet focused vignettes of Kabul…

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Kabul: A City At Work is a multi-media project, led by a joint international and Afghan crew collecting interviews, photographic portraits and video shorts of the people of Kabul in their working environments.

These small yet focused vignettes of Kabul life are a window into the soul of a much-misrepresented city that shows a positive view of the vibrant economic life that exists in Afghanistan.

So far the work has been shown on Afghan TV in the form of a six part TV series.

The characters can also be seen on kabulatwork.tv

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