Deena the Delight

Macrorayan, Kabul, Afghanistan

I met Deena at a protest for womens' rights in downtown Kabul. I was photographing the event when she and a work colleague came up to me and we got to talking and she quickly agreed to invite me over to her home and let me photograph her life.

Deena was the first young college aged woman that I had had the chance of really sitting down and talking with. I was so impressed by her. Though her father has passed away, he had studied in the states and he encouraged his girls before anything else to get an education. All of her sisters had graduated from university and were working in a profession. Deena studied psychology and in her first job out of university, she worked with male heroine addicts in Kabul. This was fascinating to me, that at a clinic that works with all men, in a country like Afghanistan where women are not necessarily seen as capable equals, that she and her other young friend were the counselors for these male addicts. I talked with her about the challenges of that, and she and her friend had made much progress in their positions and most of the men eventually came around and accepted them as authorities.

Most recently Deena has been working with a USAID project where her job has been to research how to get men to see gender inequality as something that is important to them, to learn how to get them to care. This woman has guts. She said at one point that there is no difference between men and women, meaning their abilities. That was music to my ears, and I know that so many of the young ladies of Kabul are fierce and determined like her. She feistily voted at this years historic election, saying in Facebook posts that she would not let the Taliban keep her from doing so. As we walked together, some young men yelled things at me in Dari that I didn't understand and had come to be used to ignoring. She turned around and yelled at them to be quiet, that they were representing their country to me. This is one uniqe lady.

The afternoon I went to her home in Macrorayan, I sat and had tea and snacks with her and her sisters and mother. Her friend and friend's sister arrived, a fellow addiction counselor, and we all went for a walk and had some food at an all women's garden. This is my favorite part of doing this work; meeting extraordinary young women who are living their lives with courage and seeing, at least for a few hours, what that life looks like.