Allies or Enemies: The Afghan Road to Manhood

I created this set of images while in Afghanistan in early 2008 as part of a trip I took with Youth With A Mission. I was struck by the polarized lives of the boys and young men in the orphanage versus those in the village. In particular, I was exploring the relationship of these youths with the Taliban. Those in the orphanage, would, conceivably, be sought out and recruited as they had no home, no family, whereas those in the village have experienced or likely will experience some form of violence at the hands of the Taliban, and, thusly, live in opposition to them. The way these relationships are not only present in war-torn Afghanistan, but are also present in the United States as it relates to gangs or cults, in Africa, in Asia, in Europe, in South America … The problem exists on a global scale. When people are abandoned, not given adequate and lasting support structures, very often, another entity will show up and offer them, at least initially, the “family” or “support” they have craved.

These photos were all created near Mazar-e-Sharif using a Nikon D200 digital SLR.