My trip to Daikundi was one third of a three-part mission I am conducting for my new job. In my last year here I have been lucky enough to travel to many provinces, meet many types of people and have genuine moments of clarifiying experiences to keep me happy and motivated. My last year in Afghanistan has shown me a different way of living life. One that involves simply absorbing my environment without trying to understand everything, and through that absorption, slowly and gradually I have come to fall in love with a country that has provided a passionate, deep companionship as well as one that has pushed me to my boundaries and allowed me to grow as a person.
It started with a helicopter ride, my first helicopter ride ever in fact. Being a pseudo engineer and ex-almost pilot, this was exciting for me. The journey was smooth but loud, and we drifted West almost effortlessly across Afghanistan until we reached Daikundi, looking like a planet from outer-space.
my first helicopter ride
Daikundi presented itself to me like a breathe of fresh air. It was more remote and rugged than anything I have experienced so far. There is not a single paved road in the province, and with the harsh mountainous terrain, most parts of the area are cut off from the rest of the world and the country for up to five months of the year. It was already pretty damn cold there, and I was happy that I was not there to see the proper winter.
The people of Daikundi were exceptionally friendly. My Afghan colleague repeatedly showed shock when they didn’t try to rip us off in the bazaar when buying bread, eggs and fruit. “How much did he charge you for that?” he said. “15 AFS. Is that OK?” I said. “Yes….that is amazing. They are so honest here!”. And so we drifted through the bazaar with many inquisitive stares, but no hassle at all. The bazaar seemed idyllic to me. A place that is stuck in time, with a community buying and selling from each other in a circular fashion, with little outside commerce and an air of happy contentment of the simplicity of life.
famous Daikundi almonds
Most of the people in Daikundi are Hazara, and Daikundi was actually formed in 2004 to separate the Hazara region of Oruzgan and give them autonomy. With the peace that they are now able to enjoy, I felt as though Daikundi was a blank canvas. A province that could be developed, women educated, health care provided for all. Anything is possible.
Directorate of Public Health - one of the many qalas in Nili, Daikundi
I left Daikundi with a feeling of satisfaction. I had seen yet another part of the colourful spectrum that is Afghanistan, and it pleased me to the core. I felt re motivated and positive that Afghanistan is not a place of just war and destruction, but it is a place of beauty and simplicity.
Baking bread in Nili bazaar