Following the selection of Mark de Rond and Magda Rakita as the winners of our photojournalism competition in November, both set off to Afghanistan in early December to cover the effects of PTSD among Afghan civilians (pre-trip blog on our website can be found here).They visited Dr Alemi’s psychiatric hospital in Mazar, one of the few facilities in the entire country which treats mental health and sees a staggering 80-120 patients a day. Mark’s full article was published on Huffington Post and can be viewed here. Magda’s moving photos of the doctors and patients were published in the Guardian. Following publication of her photos, Magda did an interview for BBC Pashto and her work was featured by the Open Society Foundation on instagram and Roads & Kingdoms, an award-winning journal. It is expected Magda’s photos will also be published by the IQ Economist Lithuania in their bi-monthly Culture & Lifestyle magazine in June 2016.
The work produced out of Mark and Magda’s trip has sparked interest from the British Council, the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations. They would like to use the story and photos to start a new arts-focused project on mental health in Afghanistan and the UK. BAAG is currently developing a project proposal with London and Kabul-based British Council staff.
In mid-December we held our second Policy-makers Roundtable which focused on the topic of Afghan migration. More specifically, participants discussed the causes of Afghan migration flows and whether development aid is an appropriate tool for reducing migration and extremism. The full report can be viewed here. Representatives from the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office and UK Department for International Development were among the 19 policymakers and development and migration experts who attended. The report was sent to all members of the APPG Afghanistan, to civil servants in the British and European government and to the EU Parliament. Five M4D partner staff also participated in the event.
In February, BAAG supported the SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London) Afghan Society’s panel discussion on Afghan migration. BAAG’s own Director, Jawed Nader, chaired the panel. Discussions explored the factors leading so many Afghans to migrate to Europe and the implications this may have on Afghanistan in the longer-term. 58% of those who provided feedback on the event indicated the event changed their perception about development issues in Afghanistan for the better.
Last month BAAG sent accomplished British/American journalist, Amie Ferris-Rotman, as an expert speaker to the Journalist Training with VIKES. She was subsequently interviewed in Helsinki by Rudolf Sivy. Amie has previously worked with Reuters in their Moscow bureau and later as Senior Correspondent in Afghanistan. She recently won the Georgina Henry award for her work founding Sahar Speaks, an organistion which trains and mentors Afghan female journalists with the aim of finding them publishing opportunities.