Thursday, July 29, 2010

Video for Oxfam online at The Guardian

A video I shot (along with photographer Abbie Trayler-Smith) and edited for Oxfam online at The Guardian:

Messages to the Kabul conference: 'The first thing we need is peace'

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Briquettes into Bridges for War Kids Relief

Briquettes into Bridges from Elissa Bogos on Vimeo.

In the U.S. led effort to hunt down the Taliban, many innocent civilians of Helmand Province have lost their lives and homes as collateral damage during the bombing and violence.

With their homes and land destroyed, thousands of people have fled the fighting in Helmand and are currently living in a makeshift camp on the outskirts of Kabul.

The nonprofit organization Children's Culture Connection and it's program, War Kids Relief, is partnering with a local Kabul NGO to set up a Briquette Production and Training Center at the camp. The income-generating project will train the people there to manufacture and sell fuel briquettes.

For more information about the project:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"Any person who has a mind, he can do anything."

Hashmatullah, 23, lost both his legs when he was six years old and stepped on a landmine in Afghanistan. His father died in the accident.

Hashmatullah is now the administrative manager of the Kabul Orthopedic Organization (KOO), which was founded in 2004 to treat individuals injured by land mines or suffering from other physical disabilities. Afghanistan remains one of the most heavily mined countries in the world.

Last year, Hashmatullah began driving a car by wearing one prosthetic leg and using a cane to press the gas and brakes. He says that driving has given him much more freedom and believes that as long as a person has a mind, they can do anything.

"Any person who has a mind, he can do anything." from Elissa Bogos on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The heart goes on...

After the Taliban movement took control of Kabul in 1996, they enforced strict bans on music and television. Although the Taliban had closed down cinemas and banned films when the movie was released in 1997, many Afghans were able to smuggle video tapes of the Titanic into the country from Pakistan. People took risks to obtain the film, covering all their windows with drapes while they watched it at night.

In 2001, the Taliban began arresting barbers who gave Afghan customers haircuts styled after Leonardo DiCaprio's in Titanic. For a time, there was even a market in Kabul called Titanic City, where merchants sold items that had the word "Titanic" on them.

Wedding cakes molded into the shape of the Titanic ship also become very popular, although some bakers who sold them were targeted by the Taliban and told to make cakes in the shape of Afghanistan's historical monuments instead.

Many Afghans, like the very talented musicians in the video who I am fortune to have as friends, know most of the words to Celine Dion's song by heart.

My Heart Will Go On from Elissa Bogos on Vimeo.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Friday Bozkashi Match

Bozkashi, a sport where Afghan men carry the carcass of a headless goat towards a goal, has been played in Afghanistan for centuries.

Outside Kabul, a match takes place every Friday and people from the capital and surrounding areas come to watch the competition.

Music by Ahmad Zahir.

Friday Bozkashi Match from Elissa Bogos on Vimeo.

Government buildings attacked by Taliban militants

Taliban militants struck the heart of Kabul this morning in an attack that left at least five people dead.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told the Associated Press that up to 20 Taliban fighters entered the heavily secure area in the capital to target several government buildings, including the presidential palace. The attack came on the same day that confirmed cabinet members were to be sworn in by President Karzai at the presidential palace.

After a suicide bomber targeted a building near the Foreign Ministry, a gunbattle raged for almost an hour in the capital.

"It's not surprising that the Taliban do this sort of thing,"AFP reported US special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke as saying.

One American man who was locked down in the Central Bank for the duration of the fighting had tears in his eyes as he told me that, when all the other Afghan evacuated the bank, several Afghan employees of the bank refused to leave until the foreigners in the bank were also evacuated. "That, to me, is the real Afghan spirit," he said.

Foreign forces arrived on the scene several hours after the first attack. One Afghan friend asked me why foreign forces didn't arrive sooner to help out. The American man chimed in: "That area is so heavily populated with pedestrians. God forbid the American forces fired into the crowd and ended up accidentally killing an innocent Afghan woman or child, the repurcussions..."

In other, lighter news, the Khaleej Times reported that the "world's least known bird" has been found breeding in Afghanistan. A breeding ground for the large-billed reed warbler was discovered in the Wakhan Corridor in northeastern Afghanistan.

Read the Khaleej Times full article about the large-billed reed warbler here: