Arts, Culture & Media

We don't usually see this side of Afghanistan

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These merchants sell Hena in Jalalabad city, Ningarhar province.

Credit:

Bilal Sarwary

Afghanistan is a country of breathtaking valleys and mountains, but we don't often see the country's beauty discussed or pictured in the news.

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But the BBC's Bilal Sarwary has seen them as he travels around the country, and he's started a collection of photos of everyday life. He's taken photos of school children in colorful outfits, a bird seller at the Kabul market and a farmer in Kundoz.

"What I’ve been trying to do is to show the world that Afghanistan is a country which has beauty and beautiful people. And that normal life goes on," he says. “Unfortunately with all the news about fighting and all the other problems, people start to forget that Afghanistan has this natural beauty.”

Some of Sarwary's pictures date as far back as 2003 — but he only recently started posting them to his Twitter account, now that Afghanistan has a 3G connection. While taking the pictures and sharing them might be easy, getting to the remote areas in Afghanistan is not.

“One of the biggest frustrations that I’ve had as an Afghan is that you really can’t travel to a lot of the provinces the same way as I was able to in the past,” Sarwary says. "It's because the security has dramatically deteriorated in those areas."

So, he sometimes captures beautiful mountains and rolling valleys in photos he takes from an airplane or a helicopter. Sarwary says his photos show the resilience of the Afghan people.

“When you go to a remote village in Afghanistan and a villager, who is stuck between the government, the Taliban, and the international forces comes out, he’s hospitable. He has not lost hope,” he adds.

This, Sarwary says, is what his project is about: capturing people, their lives, their hopes, and their resilience.

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    A Kuchi boy.

    Credit:

    Bilal Sarwary

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    Rush hour, Central Kabul.

    Credit:

    Bilal Sarwary

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    Kabul, Shadoshamshera mosque.

    Credit:

    Bilal Sarwary

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    The Gardez-Kabul highway runs through southeastern Afghanistan.

    Credit:

    Bilal Sarwary

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    Hunted birds are sold in Kabul city, despite a presidential decree banning hunting of migratory birds.

    Credit:

    Bilal Sarwary

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    Kuchis

    Credit:

    Bilal Sarwary

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    Donkeys remain the most basic form of transportation in rural Afghanistan.

    Credit:

    Bilal Sarwary

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    Peach valley, Kunar province.

    Credit:

    Bilal Sarwary

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    Salang pass, Parwan province.

    Credit:

    Bilal Sarwary

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    A shopkeeper clears snow in the Salang river valley.

    Credit:

    Bilal Sarwary

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    Flying over Lashkargah, Helmand province.

    Credit:

    Bilal Sarwary

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    Flying over Lashkargah, Helmand province.

    Credit:

    Bilal Sarwary

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    Kuchis, Nawa district, Helmand.

    Credit:

    Bilal Sarwary

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    Central Kabul, butchery.

    Credit:

    Bilal Sarwary

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    This is reported to be the most expensive barber shop in Kabul city.

    Credit:

    Bilal Sarwary