Longing beyond the armoured glass

The vehicle cuts through the streets leaving a trail of dust in its wake. We pass a man on a bike possibly on his way home. We want to imagine the cold morning rather than the dust to be the reason why he has wrapped himself in a scarf.

Shortly after we pass by murals part of an art project ”healing the wounds of Kabul”. The intentions is trying to transform not only how the city looks, but also how residents think about themselves, each other, their environment and their future. They are everday heroes. Despite it all they are continuing on with their daily life.

We can only imagine what life is like for the residents because we are not really a part of it. Behind the B6 armor, like many other foreigners, we are distant visitors in a reality we are desperately trying to understand. We travel in convoys and gasp for air under the weight of the suffocating armored vest. We enjoy only marginal contact with the people whose life we intend to ameliorate. And so we long - to be out there, to understand, and feel as one of “them”.
The photos attest to the difficulty and at times frustration shared by many who work in high risk areas. The feeling of inadequacy of only observing life from behind concrete walls and thick bullet proof glass.

When speaking to photographers they often tell us that the most personal portraits are taken when people open up and are more relaxed in front of the camera. We long to have the luxury of time to build such trust. Not now but maybe soon. When we can open the door and walk around and take part of the everyday life.

Photo Essay by: Sofia Zitouni & Fallckolm Cuenca


Fallckolm Cuenca and Sofia Zitouni contributed with their photos for this collaborative essay. All photos were taken on separate occasions in Afghanistan between 2012 - 2018. Both Fallckolm and Sofia have been working in Afghanistan on behalf of the Folke Bernadotte Academy.

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