Any soldier who’s been to Afghanistan will tell you. The landscape is rugged. The climate is raw. And, as this stunning slide show reveals, the harsh environment is reflected in the unique beauty of the Afghan people…
Because the land in this high plains desert is so inhospitable, its tribal inhabitants live in extreme poverty. Houses are typically made of mud – without running water, sewers or electricity. Wood fires are the only source of heat for food and warmth.
Yet despite severe conditions, Afghans convey a sense of joy about their stark, scenic homeland. Like their surroundings, the people have acquired a rugged look, born of patient suffering from exposure to the relentless climate and the danger of terrorism.
These are the people the Taliban seek to rule by force. Suicide bombs and roadside explosives have killed hundreds of innocent Afghan civilians in the name of radical, misguided ideology.
If you see “western” garb, it’s likely a donation from another country. NATO forces have supplied countless bundles of clothes for the bitter cold winters. Families of American Soldiers send thousands of coats, gloves and shoes for children who otherwise could go barefoot in thick mud or snow.
The United Nation’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has been working to provide security so roads, schools and health care facilities can be built in this impoverished corner of the world. Hopefully, ongoing efforts will help bring relief – along with opportunities for reasonable prosperity and a peaceful existence.