Our last days together

Boys and their toys at Camp Eggers. National Guard from Indiana at a “small” base in Kabul

Afghanistan, 2009

Afghanistan, 2009

Afghanistan, 2009

One of or members wanted to buy musical instruments for her daughter so Asad and Noorai, our Afghan friends who Jodie from CodePink knew from their time in the Bay area, took her to the musicians street. One man who made rebab’s payed for us. The high light was the “older” gentleman of approximately 40 years started to sing a Pushtu song of the love of Afghanistan. Having lived in Kabul all his life in a family that followed the musical tradition of father and mother teaching their children who then carried the information to the next generation. During the Taliban time they buried their instruments in the ground in the basement of their house. If they had been discovered they would have been severely beaten or killed. We all felt his love and our hearts melted as we too found a peaceful, joyous, beautiful county from the tone and tenor of his song.

Afghanistan, 2009

Media Benjamin and Jodie Evans stand on either side of to very brave and courageous women who spoke of the shia family law and the protest they arranged to get the law changed. Telling of how empowered – as well as terrified – they felt as 200 to 250 brave women faced off hundreds of very angry men and women. They continue their work knowing that they have the support of many and the revolution once again is beginning.

October 2nd, 2009 in Afghanistan

Afghanistan, 2009

Afghanistan, 2009

Orphanage children

Shinkai Zahune Karokhail member of Afghan National Assembly

Right Place at the Right Time

Afghanistan, 2009

We keep busy almost every minute with meetings of all types. One of the highlights a couple of days ago was listening to Soraya director of women’s rights in the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. She was extremely energetic with a sparkle in her eye. She spoke of the work they did to protest and successfully change the Siai (forgive my incorrect spelling) family law. She invited us to attend a women’s conference Afghanistan – India – Pakistan Trialogue for Peace that just happens to be while we are here. So yesterday we attended the opening and met with many different people during a tea break and lunch. The day before yesterday we visited Shinkai Zahine Karokhail, a member of the Afghan National Assembly, in her home experiencing her dedication to women using her position to prevent unjust laws from passing for women and to create a better position for women. It surprises me just how much access we have had to these people. Must get to breakfast to give me energy for the days activities.

Beautiful People

A twenty-five year old mother.

Afghanistan, 2009

Afghanistan – In Love Again

Afghanistan, 2009

Our group has arrived safely in Kabul and we are staying in a nice quest house with a beautiful open court yard surrounded with morning glories, roses and a large bird aviary filled with chirping canaries. It really is good to be back. Yes I can see many changes beginning with the new airport built right next to the old one – lots of marble. Customs was very quick – only a few on the plane and not many foreigners. I recognized much and yet recognized very little. The landscape is the same with many more glass covered taller buildings that have been here four years ago. The approach to the airport is a newer 4 lane road and there is much road construction to deal with the terrible traffic.

Our guide and driver are experience and knowledgeable. Are heads are being filled with very candid discussions with NGO’s, members of Parliament, business people….. Mush more to write later. Our days are so full that is difficult to find the time to write.

I wanted to give you a flavor of the beauty of the Afghan people from some photos taken in a tent city across from our hosts for an amazing dinner with ministers form the government, journalist, members of the royal family…..I get a head of myself. The poverty is heart wrenching. Sorry for the tease but I must get to breakfast.

Fund Raiser Success/Getting Ready


Thank you to all those who have supported this project. With all your generous donations I have raised enough to pay for my plane fare and a portion of the trip expenses.

I will now be leaving in the wee hours of the night/morning of September 22/23 for of all places Bogota, Columbia. Now you say, “Where did that come from? I thought she was going to Afghanistan?” I am with a three day stop to deliver a paper for work. I work at the New York State Museum with the World Trade Center collection and will be talking about how exhibits can assist with the reconciliation and healing from a tragedy. Other panelist are from the Anne Frank House, Amsterdam; Australia, South Africa, Argentina, Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. So Needless to say I am working on my talk which needs to be written for simultaneous translation.

I will be arriving in Kabul on September 27th. Still no specific on what we will actually be doing in Kabul. This doesn’t entirely surprise me. Business is handled differently in Afghanistan. At the moment the delegation will be given a dinner to meet with past and present government ministers, NGO heads and Kabul intellectuals on the evening of the 28th… something I never would get to do on my own.

My biggest process right now is packing for two different places and with all my camera gear staying within the weight limit. Perhaps the next entry will be from Columbia.

Witnessing for Peace

Afghanistan, 2004

One day you see a friend. The next day you see a brother.

I will be returning to Afghanistan September 25, 2009 for almost one month. As with my previous three journeys of discovery since my first encounter in Afghanistan in 2003, I will be witnessing and gathering information from the people I meet concerning the current situation in Afghanistan. It has been almost four years since my last visit to Afghanistan and much as happened in that time. What we hear from the local media and government agencies does not address the everyday lives of the Afghan people. We hear much about the effects of the continuing war and little about the programs and projects that strive to support and assist the day-to-day needs of the Afghan people.

The first part of my journey I will be traveling with a small group from Codepink, a women initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, stop new wars, and redirect our into healthcare, education, green jobs and other life-affirming activities. Codepink rejects foreign policies based on dominance and aggression, and instead calls for policies based on diplomacy, compassion and a commitment to international law with an emphasis on joy and humor. This delegation seeks to enhance understanding of Islam and Afghan culture as well as the role the Afghan people want the U.S. to play building a lasting peace in Afghanistan. Participants will return with a first hand understanding of the political and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and experience the rich cultural heritage kept alive amidst more than thirty years of conflict. I am volunteering my photographic services to this program and will be making a record of our experiences as travel in the country. We will be visiting a women’s hospital and several development projects outside of Kabul. The itinerary has not yet been finalized.

During the second part of this journey I will volunteer my photographic services to National Organization of Ophthalmic Rehabilitation (NOOR), and I will be staying with my dear friends Tom and Libby Little who have spent the past 30 years of their lives working with and developing this program. NOOR has been providing eye care to the people of Afghanistan since 1966 and provides the majority of eye care in the country. The program is involved in all levels of eye care and includes a strong training component. NOOR is a model program of teaching, guiding and empowering the Afghans to develop their own eye care programs throughout the country.

As time and safety allow, I hope to visit some of the programs that have been started by and/or assisted by family and friends of victims from September 11, 2001. They include girl’s schools, orphanages and programs for widow women.

Because of my continued interest in clothing and textiles I hope to visit some of the women and men as they carryout their traditional handcrafts of embroidery and carpet weaving. This will be combined with a visit to the Turquoise Mountain Foundation’s Center of Traditional Afghan Arts and Architecture where master craftsmen train the next generation of artisans in woodworking, calligraphy, and ceramics.

Each of these interests fit together as a jigsaw puzzle to inform of the current conditions. My heart will be open to learn from the unexpected.

The cost of this fast approaching journey­— fees, airfare, photo equipment and supplies, housing, food, local transport and translators — is approximately $5,000.

I would be grateful for any sort of contribution, large or small, whether money and / or prayers. I welcome your suggestions about making this journey. You can also help by organizing a showing of a digital multimedia presentation or photographic exhibition after I return this winter or in the spring. Please visit my web site (www.globalvillagephotographer.com) for examples of my photography and writings concerning Afghanistan. As the conditions allow I will be writing a blog while I am traveling (globalvillagephotographer.blogspot.com).

Donations can be sent to Connie Frisbee Houde, 22 Elm Street Albany, New York 12202 and/or look for an announcement concerning a fundraising event in mid September that will include the sale of my note cards and an auction of some of my Afghan photographs.

In gratitude,

Connie Frisbee Houde