Surviving Kabul

In 1996 in Afghanistan’s capital city of Kabul, government forces waged a failing defense against a little known religious group being educated and trained in the Madrassas (religious schools) in neighboring Pakistan.

The Taliban, as they called themselves, swept across Afghanistan quickly using their fanaticism to overcome the lack of heavy weapons and combat experience their opponents had. Surrounded and compromised by warring factions, Kabul could no longer provide services for the innocents, among them the women, children and wounded.

Afghan Government soldiers battle to hold their positions around Kabul against advancing Taliban forces. ©Thomas James Hurst
A young girl walks through the rubble and destruction that years of fighting have brought to the neighborhoods of Kabul in Afghanistan. ©Thomas James Hurst
Doctors inside Kabul’s main hospital work to clean the boy’s partially severed hand. ©Thomas James Hurst
A young boy and his mother wait for doctors at the main hospital inside Kabul. ©Thomas James Hurst
Billboards from the Organization for Mine Clearance & Afghan Rehabilitation or OMAR are painted on walls to help the citizens of Kabul identify the hidden threats in and around the Afghan capital. After years of war and conflict millions of the landmines, booby-traps, and unexploded munitions lay strewn around the country. ©Thomas James Hurst
A man waits to be fitted with a prosthetic after losing his leg to a landmine while walking in a field. ©Thomas James Hurst
Afghan government forces hold the frontline around the capital city of Kabul. Government forces are in a desperate battle against radical islamists being indoctrinated in the madrasas of Pakistan before heading into Afghanistan for training and combat. The radical group calls themselves Taliban and their ferocity in battle is both revered and feared. The Taliban have advanced through Afghanistan quickly with one focus, to take total control of the country. ©Thomas James Hurst
A boy lies unconscious in Kabul’s main hospital. ©Thomas James Hurst
Almost as though she is part of the mud and earth landscape surrounding her, an Afghan woman in her burka walks through a crumbling and destroyed neighborhood inside the capital of Kabul. ©Thomas James Hurst
The headmaster of Kabul’s orphanage, stands patiently waiting for his students to fall in line before lunch ©Thomas James Hurst
An orphan’s eyes are captured in a piece of broken mirror as he looks up from his reading. The mirror is a toy he uses to reflect sunlight while he and other children are out at play. ©Thomas James Hurst
In a Kabul orphanage, young orphans are gathered together for a photograph. The orphanage works to feed, educate, and teach trades or crafts to the The Darl Atomium orphanage in the besieged capital of Afghanistan is seeing more than a dozen children orphaned everyday from the continued fighting between the Taliban and the remaining government forces More than 700 children are cared for by a handful of dedicated Afghan staff determined to feed, educate, and teach trade skills to the boys and girls. ©Thomas James Hurst (1996)more than 700 children they care for. ©Thomas James Hurst
Cooks in Kabul’s orphanage stoke the fires and boil water so that they can finish preparing lunch for the more than 700 children the institution cares for. ©Thomas James Hurst
Women in burkas wait with their children at a food distribution center in Kabul. Many women, having lost their husbands to the wars and conflicts raging in Afghanistan, cannot legally work or earn a living and are left begging on the streets or fighting long lines at aid organizations, to keep their family together. Many women must give up their children to the orphanage so that they can keep themselves and their children from starving to death. ©Thomas James Hurst
Three men take shelter from the rain under the metal roof of a family members gravesite at Kabul’s largest cemetery. ©Thomas James Hurst
An old Afghani man trudges up the road running through Kabul’s largest cemetery and into the hills overlooking the capital city. ©Thomas James Hurst