“If you could give a message to a large group of people, what would it be?” “Afghanistan has a lot to offer us, and we all have opportunities for personal growth here. I grew up in Afghanistan. I have learned what freedom means here, and how to live as a free human being in Afghanistan. We do not necessarily need to go to the West to open our minds to reality. Being open-minded is not limited to borders, and you can shine and be a leader anywhere, but only if you want to.”
Photograph by Noorullah Shirzada. Shirzada says he often rides a motorbike around the area to find interesting things to photograph. On this day he was expecting to photograph children laboring in a nearby brick factory, but the gathering of schoolchildren caught his eye so he went to investigate. “The teacher said the girls are seated at the front to encourage them to answer questions and be more involved, as otherwise they are quite shy.”
"Why did you decide to stay in Afghanistan to go to university, when you could have studied in the U.S. on a scholarship?" "This is Afghanistan and I am an Afghan - I feel like not all of us should leave! I was happy to get a scholarship from an American university, but it was a dream come true when I received a full scholarship from a private Afghan university. I believe that there is so much I can learn and do if I am in Afghanistan. I can volunteer, I can pass on what I learn, I can be an activist, I can protect rights, I can vote, I can develop a business, I can make the unheard voice heard … and so much more!"
"The happiest day of my life was when the Taliban left Kabul. I came out of my house and there were Afghan soldiers on the streets keeping the peace."
"So what is the best part about the zoo?" "I work for the Environmental Protection Agency of Afghanistan, so I want my children to have the chance to learn about the animals."
"What advice do you have for parents?" "I advise all parents to give their children education. Do not let them work for money when they are young."
“So, can you tell me what you’re doing here?” “This bike riding club is to encourage girls to ride here in Kabul. There are so many girls that won’t bike because they think that the culture won’t allow for it, and so they have to walk for long distances instead. Also, there’s not a lot of sports facilities for women, so biking is a great option to exercise.”
Little humans of Kabul. They love that lion statue at the Kabul Zoo …
"What’s your favorite part about flying kites? "Fighting other kites!"
"What do you want to be when you grow up?" "A journalist. Like my mom."
First photo (by Jonathan Levinson): Latifa Nabizada, Afghanistan’s first woman military helicopter pilot, and her daughter Malalai, who flies with her. Second photo (by Armando Perez) shows them with other women honored for their service.