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.
A collection of reporting from Pulitzer Center grantees featuring international news stories published by media outlets from around the world, as well as reporting original to the Pulitzer Center website.
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.
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.
Srinagar, India -- Bullet holes are still visible along the commercial heart of Kashmir's capital, reminders of past gunbattles, bombings and suicide attacks that used to be an almost daily occurrence here.
Today, the only din is traffic and protesting bus drivers, who say the state owes them back wages. "It's been more than two years since we had any kind of explosion here," said Amir Amin, a shopkeeper. "We Kashmiris are so fed up with fighting, it's time we enjoyed business as usual."
I'm on my second day in Georgetown. Remarkable city; a national capital dominated by two story, peaked-roof wooden houses, many with ornate gingerbread trimming (the influence of Dutch and British colonialists), but up on stilts. Cars, trucks, scooters and the odd horse-drawn carriage clog the streets. The shops you pass range from internet cafes and cellular phone stores to stores selling mining equipment. Children play on open fields in the city center while cows and horses graze nearby. The clash of epochs here is disorienting.
While reporting on water scarcity, Alex Stonehill and Sarah Stuteville met Ethiopian journalist Eskinder Nega who has been imprisoned multiple times under the country's restrictive press laws.
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.
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.