Some recent shots from a freezingly cold week I just spent in Lal wasare Jangal, central Afghanistan. It is harsh, but not without beauty.
Most people live extremely simply in these parts of Afghanistan, including the expat team I stayed with. No running water, outside long drop latrines (no fun at -20C), simple housing. Electricity is like the old days here, from solar panels, and there is no TV. The Lal bazaar is essentially a few shops selling car parts, some apples and plastic shoes. I asked about vegetables and they laughed at me. You want veggies, bring them from Kabul or grow them yourself.
I spent a week training the development team in the mornings – all in Dari and Hazaragi, which left me tongue-sore and jaw aching, and the afternoons working with the expats. We did have time for a few wonderful walks up the mountains. Lal is probably the safest part of Afghanistan, with all Hazara people there is no support for insurgent groups at all, and there was never much Soviet presence so there are no land mines. Brilliant. But very poor, and much ignored by current aid efforts.
Lastly, in response to a few questions from Lucy and Stephen about working here: I am always happy to try to recruit people to Afghanistan. There are some ideas or suggestions I have – anyone wanting to take this discussion further can email me direct at sparrowp at gmail dot com.