Afghanistan: Beautiful Mazar

During our week in Mazar-i-Sharif I really fell in love with the city. The whole place, especially just before dusk, is enshrouded in this really soft, beautiful light. For being in a desert climate, the city is surprisingly colorful. The buildings are brightly painted, but everything is faded a bit from the strong sun. So all of the colors are more pastel than they are bold. The dust in the air creates a dreamy sort of haze too. Really, it's a pretty phenomenal place.

Here are some scenic shots from our last few days in Mazar-i-Sharif.

Afghanistan: Plight of the Disabled

Today we visited the Red Cross facility in Mazar-i-Sharif where Dost was first treated after he became paralyzed from Guillain-Barre Syndrome in 1999. Dost was eager to reunite with Dr. Paul Hendrickx, the Belgian physiotherapist who first cared for him. Dr. Hendrickx sat, catching up with Dost for about an hour, then gave us a tour of the grounds. His facility is entirely dedicated to rehabilitation for people with disabilities.

Afghanistan: From Taliban Fort to School for Girls

We visited the Sultan Razia Girls' High School today, which is probably the greatest symbol of change that you can find in Mazar-i-Sharif. The school building was closed down during the Taliban era and used for three years as a base for Taliban fighters coming in from other parts of Afghanistan and for jihadis from Pakistan. On November 9, 2001 the make-shift Taliban base was raided by the U.S.-supported Northern Alliance. After the fall of the Taliban the school was reconstructed by USAID and UNDP and today 5,000 girls attend school there in two shifts, each day.

Afghanistan: Phoenix to Kabul

It took us five flights to get from Phoenix, where Dost and Farshad are living now, to their home city of Mazar-i-Sharif, in the north of Afghanistan. On the last leg of our trip Don and I interviewed Dost and Farshad about how they were feeling about returning home. By the last hour of the flight to Kabul the exhaustion of the difficult trip had melted away and the excitement had started to set in for Dost. He told us he was eager to see Mazar and even more so to see his bride-to-be, Fahima, who would be waiting for him at the airport.

Afghanistan: Arriving in Phoenix

Don and I left New York today on the first leg of our long journey to Afghanistan. We flew from our homebase in New York to Phoenix to meet up with Dost Mohammad and his younger brother, Farshad, as they prepared for their trip to Afghanistan.

Afghanistan: Dost Mohammad

I've known Dost Mohammad for five years now. We met when I was living in Phoenix and working as a reporter for The Arizona Republic. Dost, originally from Afghanistan, was not living in Phoenix by choice. Rather, he was there because it is where he was resettled by the U.S. government after leaving his home country as a refugee.