More Afghan fashion
Zarif Design - New Collection
Late last year I did my second shoot for Zarif Design www.zarifdesign.com
, an Afghan fashion label that aims to bring back traditional Afghan methods of textile production by using contemporary, but at the same time, timelesss, designs.
This time the shoot took place at the beautiful fort of Turquoise Mountain www.turquoisemountain.org
an NGO that was established to revive Afghanistan's traditional crafts, and to regenerate Murad Khane (see my blog post from last year http://www.sjcunningham.com/1/archives/02-2010/1.html
), a historic area of Kabul's old city known for its rich cultural heritage. This setting combined with the beautiful pieces from Zarif and the late afternoon sun were the perfect ingredients for a great shoot. Enjoy!
Photographer: Cedric Fedida
Designer and friend, Zolaykha Sherzad.
For the love of Egypt
For those of you that know me, you will know how proud I am of my Egyptian heritage. However, recently that pride has swelled to insane levels! I won't go into too much detail as I know we have all been following this closely on the news, but this weekend my excitement levels rose to the point of ecstasy. As well as following the news updates regularly, I have been following the story of the last 18 days with my Egyptian family in Cairo. It is through their eyes that I have understood better the importance of this movement and the hope that is in the air for change and a better life.
A friend of mine, Anders Hammer, a Norwegian journalist who is usually based in Afghanistan dropped everything to go to Egypt to cover this phenomenal story. I am sure I annoyed him greatly with my phone calls and messages asking for news, so for that I thank him! He was able to get up close with the protestors (the beauty of the iPhone) and has allowed me to share some of the fantastic moments he captured on camera with you all. Enjoy!
a big thanks to the social networking sites that strengthened this revolution.
A safe haven in a war zone
Afghanistan's Mobile Mini Circus
Tucked away in a back street of western Kabul is a magical place. A happy and colourful place that provides a stark contrast to some of the dark and unhappy lives that exist in Afghanistan. And after the sad events of last Friday, when our local supermarket was attacked by suicide bombers, we all needed a little cheering up and a check on the reality that it's not all doom and gloom in Afghanistan. So we headed to the Afghan Mini Circus for Children.
Founded in 2002, just months after the fall of the Taliban, the Circus aims to provide educational and informative entertainment for Afghan kids. During the school holidays the children come to the centre to practice for three hours each day. There are also a number of teachers who teach subjects such as Maths, English and Religious Studies.
The first room was full of boys ranging from 11 to 16 years old, all quite tiny and fearless-looking. Their talents varied - some showed the grace and confidence of an experienced acrobat, others were more clumsy in their movements. The female French teacher communicated with them with only a few Dari words, but mainly by grabbing their limbs to imitate the correct movement. She was strong and confident and the boys seem to respect her thoroughly.
When I asked why there were no girls learning to perform acrobats, the intructor told me, in a very matter-of-fact way, that it was too early for a conservative country like Afghanistan. And I saw her point immediately. She said that first, with the boys, she would prove to the government and the people that this was something worthwhile, and then later consider bringing girls on board.
Another schoolroom – a circular glass greenhouse – was filled with lots of excitable young girls forming what was the juggling school. The commotion and happiness in that small confined space was quite overwhelming to say the least. With tennis balls and juggling pins flying around our heads, I almost felt like an 11 year old myself. After a miserable attempt to juggle with two balls, a small girl came over to me and says “Nay, Nay”, indicating my technique was totally wrong. She then proceeded to guide me by demonstrating slowly the correct technique. “Yak, do”, (“one, two”) she shouted repeatedly as she slowly and deliberately threw the balls into the air one at a time and caught them in an effortless manner. I can’t say I mastered the technique, but the next time I have to juggle I will remember my little lesson in Afghanistan.
Concentrating on her technique.
Me, learning how to juggle
The most delightful part of the day was when the girls in time with each other started to sing the Shakira song, ‘This is Africa’. Together they sang, “Waka waka, ma eh eh, waka waka ma eh eh, Cause this is Africa!”
Group shot with the girls
More information on the Mobile Mini Circus can be found on their website http://www.afghanmmcc.org/