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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 September 2005, 16:32 GMT 17:32 UK
Day in Afghanistan: Daily lives
As part of the BBC News website's One Day in Afghanistan coverage, we heard from people across all walks of life, all over the country.

Throughout 13 September, they told us about their everyday experiences nearly four years after the fall of the Taleban, and their hopes and fears as their country prepares for parliamentary elections.

Read below about how they spent their day in Afghanistan.

My entire day today was taken up with the pleasure of accompanying our President, Hamid Karzai in his visit to the city of Herat.

Hanif Atmar
Hanif Atmar (with beard and white jumper)

We were there to meet the people and the administration of the province. The President wanted to talk about people's participation in this election.

The significance of these elections cannot be overestimated.

For the first time our people have the right to choose the people that they trust. For a population to get that freedom after decades of suppression is amazing. This is a new age in terms of people led governance.

We got back from Herat at 4.30pm and then I had a couple of meetings in the ministry . My office is quite generous when it comes to how many papers they should bring to my desk every day!

What was great for me to hear as Minister of Rural Development was how much people valued the National Solidarity programme throughout the country.

The programme ensures that for the first time in our history, there will be legitimate leadership at the village level - and funding too. About half of them invested in water and irrigation.

I want to assure people, as an Afghan rather than a government minister, that the distance to what they would like to see in this country is going to be much shorter after elections.

I used to be very shy about interacting with the public. But this is no longer the case because I feel we have done something of which we can really be proud.

My songs are mostly about the things people like. But that doesn't mean that I sing about trivial matters.

Some people, who I consider backward and primitive, are against singing. Our work is harmless and it only gives happiness to the society.

Our society is poor. Buying power is low and those who have great power are mostly senseless.

Society will get better when it has good leadership. If our people are wise and hopeful, we will move forward but I fear continued interference from the outside.

I've had an interesting day. It started when my bicycle brakes failed and I thought I was going to fall over. God willing, it was OK in the end. I went to a mechanic who fixed it on the spot. It cost me 10 Afghanis.

Naseer Mansoor

In school, some of our teachers were absent and we were left on our own to study. It was such fun. All the boys were making jokes and laughing because the teachers weren't around.

My friends pretended to be doctors and said they would operate on me in the class. Everybody was being naughty.

One friend invited me to his brother's wedding the day after tomorrow. I am really looking forward to going to the party.

But there's one problem. My family always force me to dance at wedding parties, but I am not a good dancer. I've tried but I have failed. One time they put me on the stage and I just couldn't do it.

I live with my big family and it's really, really nice to always have them around.

I woke up early this morning about 0530 local time. I had breakfast and started to prepare for a meeting in my election office, as I'm a candidate in the forthcoming elections. Because of President Hamid Karzai's trip to Herat, the roads were blocked and I reached the office late.

There I prepared a programme and posters for some localities and then went to have a meeting with some friends and another candidate about the ways of campaigning.

I then had a meeting with a youth organisation and we discussed issues which concerned them.

I then left the office to go to a campaigning in the city of Herat. Following lunch and I then had different meetings and then went to the west of the Herat to meet with some villagers.

I am back now in the office and having more meetings. I will go home shortly and plan what to do tomorrow.

I had a working lunch today as we've been very busy. I received 25 calls from candidates.

They want me to endorse their campaign and boost their votes. I didn't make any promises. I don't want to vouch for a candidate I couldn't guarantee. I want people to retain their trust in me.

Our organisation met for an hour finalising preparations for election time.

My office is in Kabul in a small hot office with one window and it gets the sunlight in the summer. I won't go home until 1830 or 1900 and then dinner, which will be Afghan soup or rice. And then a good sleep.


We just got home from school. I had a good day.

I'm going to have something to eat now, some rice and cheese, and then I'll do my homework. Today I had music lessons and now I have to study for my spelling class tomorrow.


Yasamin and Raziya
Yasamin and Raziya have finished their day at school
My day at school was good, but I didn't feel very well, I was a little sick.

I need to do a lot of homework, so I pass my tests.

I want to work in a hospital, but although I leave school next year and I've been looking for job opportunities, I haven't found any opportunities yet.

Life is still difficult here. My whole family; my father, mother, three brothers, six sisters, niece and two nephews - live all together in one house. My mother really wants her own house, but we don't have enough money.

I am married with six children and I manage an aid programme in Badackshan, which employs 118 staff.

Mohammad Aqa Mujadadi
Mohammad Aqa Mujadadi is optimistic about his country's future
This morning I woke at 0500 local time, prayed, then studied.

I then had breakfast and went to my office. Because I am from another province, I live in the office building so I don't have to travel.

At the beginning of my working day, I attended a meeting. We have been asked to suspend our activities from 16 September for two days and to tighten our security, because of the election, so we discussed this for over two hours in our meeting.

Then we turned to the logistics of the projects we are running - in development and construction. We have nine construction projects in Badakhshan province alone.

At noon we had a break for lunch and then started again and continued all afternoon.

Thanks to god, we are optimistic that the situation in our country will be improved. Previously we always had to walk to our projects but now, we can go by car which speeds everything up.

I am married with five children. My husband is also a teacher.

I run private courses which started with international funding. The courses were funded for nine months and then, because my pupils wanted to continue attending and they were able to shoulder some of the expenses, I carried on.

I teach them Maths, Dari and hygiene issues and the lessons take place in my home.

Today I woke for prayers and then prepared breakfast for the family. Then I sent the children to school, prepared my lessons and had my breakfast. At 0900 local time I started teaching. Afterwards I had my lunch and then prayed. Later on I'll help the children with their homework.

In the last four years we have seen many changes. Despite some remaining prejudices, the situation has got better.

However, I think things have worsened again over the last year. Despite teaching these girls I'm a little apprehensive about their future.

The salaries for workers in Afghanistan are too low and don't provide for a family like ours.

I am at home now. I have had a difficult few hours. I performed two operations in the hospital.

The first was on the woman with high blood pressure. I was waiting to operate on when I updated you last. She came from a village near Feyzabad and this was her first baby.

Maternity hospital
Patients come to the hospital from far afield
Unfortunately her blood pressure was incredibly high and the baby died.

The duty doctor is currently in the hospital and helping her but it was very hard for her. Her husband had come with her too and we got his permission before the operation. Obviously, he's very sad about the baby too.

The second operation was on a woman who came from over 50km away. She had ovarian cysts but I removed them and she is going to be fine.

Now, I have ten patients waiting for me in my private clinic. They have come from different districts of Badakhshan.

But I have had some good news today. One of my closest friends who lives in Australia has called me for the first time in 13 years. We went our separate ways after the Kabuli wars and didn't see each other again. I am very, very happy.

This is my third time in Afghanistan. I was here during the presidential elections and another time in 2002. I've seen a development in Kabul. So many things are changing.

There are very few women in Kabul now wearing burkhas while two years ago there were many. Another positive thing there are more children going to school and that's an important development.

There are many improvements but there is also a lot of construction. You can see new buildings everywhere.

When I go out walking around the town I feel quite safe. Of course, there is some tension when you are outside but Afghanistani people are generally peaceful.

We talk to people and ask them about our presence and they say they feel happy. People feel comfortable around us.

We have joint activities with the Afghan national police and Afghan national army and it makes a good impression on the population. People are not afraid.

They have hope that something better can arrive in the future and our presence is considered in a good way.

We are providing them with additional security for this election and that's what we are going to do for the next few days until the government has been elected.

The election period is a good opportunity for the so-called power brokers, if they want to attack the government of Afghanistan, so possibly it will be quite a critical period. However, the security measures which are in place seem to be pretty good.


Six months ago I began to learn carpet weaving. We were taught at an International Red Cross course which was conducted in the area. While attending the course I received $10 per month.

Carpet weavers
Mursal and Arzoo at work with friends

I studied previously for two years in elementary school. My father is jobless and I'm the only bread winner of the family. Now I'm working on a two meter rug, which will be finished in about three months time.

Normally the price for that would be about 17,000 Afghanis in the Kabul city market.

Today after the morning prayers I started working on the rug and worked for three hours and then had my breakfast. After having breakfast I continued to work till 1200 noon local time.

My mother prepares my food. Before I started working as a carpet weaver, mother was sewing doing some embroidery work and selling it in the market, and father was running a pulling-pushing cart.

Normally I Work till 1600 local time in the afternoon.

Arzoo I'm working on three metres of rug. I'm weaving a qarqeen rug.

My father is a farmer and we have more than half an acre of farm land which is ploughed by my father.

As usual, I started working at 0530 local time. Then I had my breakfast which was prepared by my mother who is normally preparing food for the whole family.

Although life has improved in recent years and we are happy, it still needs further improvement. I'm hopeful that the security situation will get better in the future.

I attended a literacy course and now I can read and write a little. If I studied I would have wanted to be a doctor or a teacher.

I am 30 years old and I have been a midwife for 10 years. I now work as a midwifery teacher in Bamiyan.

I live in quarters at the school where I teach. We get up early, have breakfast and by 0800 we begin teaching.

We train community midwives from five rural districts of Bamiyan. These are women are selected by their local community forum or council to become midwives and serve the local population.

These women have to be over 18 and they have to be married. Our oldest student is 40 years old.

This morning we all had breakfast together in the dining hall. Then my students went to hospital and right now they are in a clinical class, practising their skills on patients. We're waiting for them to come back to school so we can all have lunch.

I have four sons and two daughters and live in Kabul. I enjoy being a singer and work for state TV and radio. But others do not like the job I do.

Abdul Hameedi Kandahari
Abdul Hameedi Kandahari feels unsupported

Government officials here don't like that I am a singer and there is no state help for me in my job. I need a place to rehearse and to work from, but those facilities are not available to me.

The salary is also very low and I think I should be paid more.

My eldest son has not followed me into this career and instead has become a driver.

I am hopeful that the situation will improve after the election. Security is better now but I fear that this is not the real situation and that things could get worse again.

My campaigning this morning was cancelled because of security concerns. Somebody had called me and invited me to go to a district outside of Kabul to campaign.

But many people here have advised me that it might not be safe to go simply on the basis of a phone invitation.

I come from a normal family and I have no special vested interests, unlike some other candidates.

I tell people here that I can give them hope and new ideas for the future of Afghanistan and in particular I target young people.

I'm going to lunch at a restaurant now. I want to go shopping this afternoon and then to my work in the office. I will go to some English courses later with a lot of other students.

I'm preparing the ground for poppies, it's the season for them now. I cannot find anything else to grow. I have seven children, five sons and two daughters and nothing else will earn me enough money to put clothes on their backs and food in their mouths.

I've been a poppy farmer for as long as I can remember, from when I was a child, stretching right back from the days of the Zahir Shah kingdom, before the invasion of the Russians. In those days we used to grow only a small amount.

After the Russians came, we started to grow more. Too many people got involved in the poppy growing business in those days.

Later on, during the Taleban, we cultivated for around two to three years, then they imposed a ban on us and because we were afraid of them, we stopped doing it.

Even though the current government also has a ban right now, the farmers are looking at each other and seeing that everyone is still doing it and we just copy each other.

Although the government regularly announces a ban on what we're doing, the people don't care about that, we don't listen to them.

I have children, I was jobless, I didn't have any money to start a business, there are no factories, no companies to work for. The government has no employment programmes, I had no option but to return to poppy cultivation.

I feel guilty, but there is no other way.

A range of different people come and buy our crops from us, they ask us where the big amount and quantities are and we sell, but we don't know where they take it. Whether they are smugglers, or who they are.

I am a singer and live in Kabul with my family. I have 10 sons and a daughter. My oldest son is 31 years old and he is also a singer. Two of my other sons are musicians and the rest of my children are still at school.

I have two jobs. I am an arts lecturer at Kabul University and three days a week I work for the Agha Khan charity teaching music to children.

From both jobs I earn about $200 to $300 per month. I also earn extra money from playing occasionally at weddings and parties.

I get up at 0600 every day. I pray, have my breakfast and then I go to work at the university. When I work at the charity, I go there after university.

When there was fighting in Kabul, I left the city and took my family to Pakistan. First we went to Lahore and then we went to Quetta.

Three years ago we returned to Afghanistan. I have travelled a lot to play at concerts. I have been to the US twice - to 11 states altogether.

But we don't get much help from the authorities here when we want assistance to put on concerts and find space to practice with our musical instruments.

I am happy that security in Kabul has improved and I am optimistic for the forthcoming parliamentary elections. I voted for an independent candidate - an engineer.

I am a farmer with 12 members of my family.

In the past here there was a lot of fighting and I couldn't send my children to school because it was too dangerous.

Nazar Gul Shahpoor
Nazar Gul Shahpoor wants his kids to be educated

Now the security situation is better and my dream has come true and I can send my children to school. I never got to go to school. The school is 20 minutes walk away.

I work on my farm daily and also earn some extra money working with the rural development ministry. This government department has also helped me with my crops, wheat and corn and with irrigation on the farm.

We have suffered for a long time because of too many revolutions in my part of the country. Now we have a council and they are good people and we are preparing for elections to the council too.

I know there are some candidates that are former mujahjadeen fighters but we are not worried about that because the voting system is private and secure.

I woke up at 0600 this morning and went for a walk around the city near to the guest house where I stay. There are a lot of children going to school, girls in long black dress and shops are opening up for the day.

As I walked around, I saw a lot of banners and photos of the candidates. But the rallies are quite low key. I talked to a colleague of mine, who is a water engineer, and he says the candidates don't have so much money to spend on publicity campaigns.

I am Nepali and I've been working here for nearly two and a half years, as an acting country director for ActionAid.

My family live in Nepal. I have two children, one has finished studying engineering and the other one is at high school. Every few months, I go to Nepal to see my children. But I make sure I stay in touch with them by phone and email.

I've just had a meeting with colleagues on the disarmament and reintegration of child soldiers committee, young men under 18, who haven't been given the opportunity to learn.

Now they are being given the chance to go to school again and be part of a community.

Looking ahead to the elections I think that compared to the last presidential elections, this election will go relatively smoothly. Renovation and constructions are taking place and people are very optimistic.

Security in Afghanistan is getting better day by day and there is trust being developed amongst the people and there's a hope that peace can be retained in the country.

The government seems stronger than before, but it is not easy as the country has gone through more than two decades of war, factional fights and droughts.

I'm a Kabuli, now waiting for the bus to take me to the hospital to see a friend who is a patient there. The air in Kabul is polluted and there are many reasons for that, but one reason is the dense population in Kabul, lots of people have come here for other parts of the country.

There are many houses in the Kabul green belt areas, in the parks and on the hills. There are many cars on the streets is another reason.

Another reason would be the destroyed houses and when the wind blows, it creates dust in the air.

Some of the returnees who want to rebuild their houses have put their building materials unattended on the streets and when it is windy, it also create plumes of dust.

That is the reason when we see some of our young people are wearing masks and the girls are using their head scarves to cover their mouths and noses.

It has been my dream to make cinema in Afghanistan and serve my people this way.

Hashmat Khan
Hashmat Khan wants to make films for the Afghan people

I was born and brought up in Afghanistan and in the 1980s I went to Bombay to start my career as an actor.

In 2002, I returned for the first time in 20 years. Now, I have just made Afghanistan's first commercial film since the Taleban. It is called Spring of Hope and is a love story set against political in turmoil. It begins with the Russian invasion and it ends with the fall of the Taleban.

At this very moment I'm in an editing suite Bombay putting the finishing touches on my film. We have to do this editing in Bombay because there is nothing in Afghanistan, no equipment, no facilities, just the talent.

I'm working with one of the greatest film editors in Indian cinema, Inayatullah Kunni. Whatever I've learned in cinema I owe to him.

I hope the film will be released in Afghanistan in November. It means a lot to me. This film is not for film festivals, Hollywood or Bollywood. It is for the Afghan people.

I am a widow now, thirteen years ago my husband who was a police officer died. I have three daughters and a son. My eldest daughter is 18 and my youngest son is thirteen.

Layla works hard to earn a living

I woke up for prayer time this morning. I woke the younger children up and the older one woke up on his own.

Before 0800 I prepared their breakfast and after they had that, the two youngest went to school.

After my husband died I had to work hard. I did lots of different work, like sewing people's pyjamas, washing, cooking, baking bread in fire ovens and other chores in people's houses to make a living.

I have my own house. I have nobody else to assist me in any way and I even had my brother's child to raise as well.

There are lots of difficulties and life is hard for me. Two years ago, finally they processed the paper work and now I receive my husband's pension money which is about $6 dollars a month.

I'm a commander of the mountain infantry. My main task is to maintain the security of the headquarters in the central part of Kabul.

Captain Francesco Camelli
Captain Francesco Camelli helps maintain security

Day by day, we carry out security patrols inside this area because of the presence of western embassies and work alongside the city police and Afghan national army to maintain a good level of security.

People here generally feel quite safe and it's an important time because the elections signal change.

Many people seem to trust the government. With the huge presence of the media here and the interest the elections are generating, there could be some disruption, so that's why we are co-operating closely with the Afghan police.

Every morning when I wake up I perform my prayers, after that I start up my car and drive around the city. From around 0800 in the morning I drive for the Kabul municipality. I drive for them until around four, after which I drive my own private car.

Petrol is too expensive and there aren't too many passengers. Despite these hardships, I go through my life and everything is ok, neither good nor bad. I do not have to answer to anyone. I am basically happy because I am able to feed my family.

There is too much traffic around Kabul and no-one pays much attention to the traffic laws. Powerful people, like the warlords and the ministers, they do what they like on the roads.

These people go up one-way streets against the traffic sounding their horns as they go.

Generally the drivers in Kabul are illegal anyway. They just pay a bribe to get a licence. These drivers are so unprofessional. They do not even take any driving classes before they get their licence.

My car is an old model - a yellow and white Lada. As much as I earn, half of it goes on the vehicle tax and half is left for me. I can fulfil the needs of my family by driving and that is good enough for me.

I am a poll worker in Wardak Maidan province but I originally come from Paktya Province.

I studied at the Kabul university, at the faculty of humanity and letters, and graduated from the language department.

Zarghona Ahmadzey
Zarghona Ahmadzey is encouraging people to vote

I have five children, three daughters and two sons. My eldest child is 19 years old.

I woke up early this the morning, just after midnight. I prayed and then woke my daughters up to pray. Then we did our daily exercise together.

After having our breakfast, I travelled to my office, together with my son, who is a student to the faculty of education. Then eight female poll workers travelled out by jeep. According to the weekly plan, I and a colleague of mine, Jamila Amarkhela, went to see Koochi families.

When we arrived here a short time ago, there was a wedding going on and I and my colleague are in the tents with the women. At the moment we are enjoying the wedding and haven't been able to start working yet.

However, in the afternoon we have a scheduled meeting at the Salmane Fars high school and will meet the Koochi families.

Under the Taleban, I ran my own underground school in Kabul, helping to educate the children.

I am hoping for a bright future. There are many problems in life and economically there has to be some changes and more to be done for the people to be satisfied.

I do believe, unless everybody in the society is educated, the whole society will suffer. Besides being a poll worker, I'm also teaching at the Nadeed Shaheed high school.

I live in a village in Kuz Kunar district in a small mud hut.

Four years ago my husband Hanif was killed by the Taleban. He was a member of a private militia, a mujahideen. We were engaged when I was 15 years old.

Saima with her kids and her cow
Saima makes a living from her one cow

He left me with my three beloved sons, Shakir(7), Nusrat(4) and Zakir(3), and no way of supporting myself.

The International Rescue Committee charity came to my area and gave me a cow. I now make a living by milking the cow and selling the milk and making yoghurt and selling that too.

This morning I got up at 5am to milk the cow. Some of the milk feeds my children for breakfast and I sell the remaining milk to my neighbours.

Then my eldest son walks to school 2km away. While he is away I will cook lunch and help local families in exchange for bread.

I work two jobs to support my family. In the morning I work for a foreign company, Ockenden International, teaching staff literacy skills.

In the afternoon, I teach in a high school for boys. I teach them Pashto and English.

Sultan Ahmed Liwal
Sultan wants more investment in the education system

I earn about 5000 Afghani ($100) per month for both jobs.

I have four daughters and two sons.

From my home to the school it is 6km which is too far to bring my small daughters. I have to walk or sometimes have a bicycle.

I woke at 0430 this morning and prayed first thing. I then had breakfast and got to work for 0800. I finish working at 1730 in the evening. When I get home I listen to various radio stations, including the BBC and Kabul radio.

I am happy that there is stability now and security is better. I am not however happy with the education system. There is not enough books or stationery and the salaries for teachers need to be better.

I am optimistic for the upcoming elections. Even in this part of Afghanistan, bordering with Turkmenistan, there is a hot campaign for the elections and I believe in having a democratic election here.

I get up at 5am every morning to perform my prayers. At 8am I go to my computer course. Then I return home to eat my breakfast and watch TV. After that my school day starts at 12.30.

I love studying. My favourite subjects are chemistry, physics and English. When I finish school, I return home to do my homework, eat my dinner and continue studying until 10pm.

I live with my family, I have four sisters, one brother and many uncles and aunts. There are about 20 family members altogether and we all live in the same house.

I left Afghanistan in 1999 to continue my studies in Pakistan. When the Americans defeated the Taleban I was glad to return to my own country. I was about to die from happiness when I took a full breath for the first time in my own country after the Taleban had gone.

I woke at 0330 local time, I prayed and then started reciting the holy Koran. At about 0700, together with some other officers, I had my breakfast and went to my office.

As usual I chaired an administrative meeting to assign the duties for today. Then the head of the provincial security came to the prison and had a meeting with me and my colleagues.

Now, at the moment there is construction work happening in the central jail of Parwan province. I'm trying to make some more rooms and toilets for the prisoners, here.

I'm married, with six children, four sons and two daughters. For more then twenty one years I've been working with the government. Thank God, I'm happy with my life and have no complaints.

There is no fighting in the country now and I'm most optimistic and hopefully all the skirmishes here and there will die down and the country will be in complete peace very soon.

I wake up at 5am to see the sunrise at the hotel I manage called The Roof of Bamiyan in Bamiyan. The hotel is on top of a hill and I can't explain how beautiful the sunrise is - it is like paradise.

Some mornings I have a telephone call from my four children who live with my wife in Kabul. The children go to school there. My wife doesn't like to talk on the telephone much.

If we have guests to stay I take care of them in the morning. We serve them breakfast at 7:30, usually something simple like omelettes. I speak to them about their day and answer any questions they have.

A lot of the guests are journalists or officials on their way to Kabul. When they leave I have time to think about my business and wait for the next guests who arrive in the middle of the afternoon.

I am looking forward to the elections and support our local candidate. I encourage my friends to vote for him, I tell them he is an honest man.

After we serve the guests dinner in the evening I will relax, usually watching TV. I like to watch the news. Here in Afghanistan we don't know what's happening from one day to the next so I am always listening to the news. It is good to know all the world is having problems and that we are not alone.

I live with my wife and two children in Kabul. I work to represent my community and give us a political voice.

Ravinder Singh
Ravinder is working to improve life for minorities

I am partly looking forward to the election because it will mean a change but partly I am worried because there are problems with the constitution and the security is not good.

There is nothing for the minority population. The Hindus and Sikhs don't have a single seat.

The Koochis have 10 seats and there are 9 seats for women but there is nothing for the minorities. There are about 5,000 mainly Hindu and Sikh people in the whole of Afghanistan and around 1,200 live in Kabul and we are the oldest minority in Afghanistan.

I'm 21 years old and my life is very busy. I'm a journalist for Pashwooq, which is Afghanistan's first independent news agency. I also write for a newspaper in Mazar-i-sharif called 'Sahar', which means 'dawn.'

Tahir Qadiry
Tahir welcomes the new found freedom of expression

At dawn today, I woke up and prayed. I then wrote an editorial about the increase in skirmishes in Afghanistan over the past week. I said that if the government does not take action and track down insurgents they will undermine the elections.

For the past two years, there has been real freedom of expression for the media. People can talk freely without fear. We write commentaries about warlords and government irregularities. This is the first time that the people of Mazar have had access to two daily papers.

I also run an English school for Afghan children, both girls and boys. It was set up during the Taleban, but they banned it. They came in and because we were not wearing turbans, they shut down the school that same day. I have many hopes for the future. I hope to become president of Afghanistan one day. Or maybe an Ambassador.

As a child I was taken to Pakistan by my parents and I lived in Quetta for 14 years.

Nahid Mirzad
Nahid Mirzad is happy to be a policewoman

I returned to Kabul about 18 months ago. I went to school for nine years in Pakistan and when I came back here I continued with my studies. One day they were recruiting for the police force in my school. The people were in nice suits and I liked them and decided to join.

One year ago I graduated from the police academy and at the moment I teach English and earn about 2360 Afghanis per month.

Our police academy has some problems with accommodation and some of the classes are taught in tents.

I have two brothers. The eldest works as a translator with a Turkish company in Kandahar. The other brother works not far from Kabul in Polcharkhi district.

I start work at 0800 and finish at 1600 each day. I like my job at the police academy.

I woke up at 06:30 in the morning. I then had breakfast and prepared go to the airport where I attend the meteorology and civil aviation college.

Today I couldn't go to the college by bus or car and I had to walk because President Karzai was going somewhere and all the roads to the airport were blocked.

Most people were going either by bikes or walking and we all arrived about half an hour late and the class started late, because the lecturers were late too.

Since the attack on the defence minister a few days ago, the security is very tight in Kabul. Today I studied the technology of receivers.

I think the future will be bright here. The economy is getting better and there are huge building constructions emerging in Kabul city. I hope Afghanistan is prosperous and rebuilt.

Since the salary of civil employees is not enough, I have to contribute to the household economy as well. I don't complain about life but I think life needs to be better, it is hard for young people in the country to achieve what they aspire to achieve.

I am in the college now but later I will go to my work place in the centre of Kabul. I am single and live in Kabul Microrayon.

I'm a public outreach officer and a youth worker. I'm involved in disseminating electoral information to potential voters.

Our aim is to inform and educate all eligible Afghans to participate in the upcoming elections. I want to make sure people go to the polling station on election day.

Last night, we put out a programme on Afghan National Television called "Witness". Through this, we inform the public that we're close to the elections and that they have the right to vote. We need to make sure people know what is happening. This morning I wrote a report on how the programme went. I believe it was very successful.

Everybody I talk to is very optimistic. They have great faith in this process. For the first time in history they have a say in the running of their own country.

Since I first came to Afghanistan in 2002, I've seen enormous progress in social political and economic life. With these elections, our voice will be heard by the government.

I woke up very early at 3am. It's what I do every morning as before I go to hospital I see patients in my own home. This morning seven women were waiting to see me.

I live in Badakhshan, a mountainous and remote area with the world's highest maternal mortality rates.

The women I saw this morning had travelled throughout the night and came from very far away. The paths are bad and the weather is harsh. Mostly, they were suffering from secondary infections due to unsafe abortions and blocked labour.

I am now in the hospital and about to treat a woman with high blood pressure. She is currently waiting in the operation theatre for me, but I need her blood pressure to go down before I perform a Caesarean section.

We started work in this hospital in 2002. Before this we only had one room for gynaecology patients in the main hospital. The UN and the government gave us some money to help us out of this desperate situation and we built this hospital.

In the future I would like more drugs and resources to expand this hospital. So many women here have terrible complications in pregnancy.

The elections are a great thing. One of the local candidates is a doctor. Maybe with such developments women in Badakhshan can look forward to a good life.

I'm just heading to my office for my day's work in the Logar province. I'm a co-ordinator for the National Solidarity programme for both the Khost and Logar provinces.

Many people living in these provinces are refugees. I am working to reduce poverty in these areas and empower the communities. Under the occupation of the Taleban regime, much of the land, especially in the Logar provinces, was not used and full of landmines.

That's different now. The landmines have been removed and people are starting to realise what they can do with their land.

I have helped to raise millions of dollars through international donor associations. I've helped to raise about $14 million for the Logar province and $28 million for the Khost province.

My people have asked me to run for parliament because of my development work but I want to continue to raise money for my people.

I live in Lagman province in Eastern Afghanistan and am a Koochi nomad. I have been asked to represent other nomads in my area. I believe there are too few seats for nomads in parliament.

I will argue to represent my people and tell of the difficulties we face, lack of schools, lack of clinics.

Mangal Alakozai Haqmal
Mangal Alakozai Haqmal speaks for the Koochi nomads

I didn't go to school and I am currently unemployed. In the past I have been a trader.

I am 43 and have seven sons, five of them go to school and two are working. One of them works in road building and earns about $200 per month. My other son is in the Afghan army and earns $80.

I would like to open a shop and have a business. I have mixed impressions of the foreign companies who are working here now, some are not very efficient.

I feel that since the fall of the Taleban life has got better. Security, I believe is good now and this is the main issue, the improvement of the security situation. I also believe that there should be different points of views in parliament and that we will fight in future, not with guns, but with our logic.

I've just arrived at school and in ten minutes time I will be going into my English class.

Yasamin and Raziya
Raziya with her sister Yasamin

I travel to school with my sister Yasamin who is a year older than me.

I like to study science, English and plants.

I like to play football all the time when I am not studying.

I like to run, practice football and I always like to win.

At 0600, I travelled to a school to play basketball, but I was told I could not play because the schoolgirls have difficult exams today. So that was disappointing.

I normally like to play basketball most mornings. I play for the national team and enjoy the sport very much.

At 0900, I'll go to the University of Kabul to talk to some girls about the elections. As I'm the youngest parliamentary candidate, many young people come to the campaigning office to ask me questions about what might happen.

Later, I will go and meet a number of women and talk to them about why the parliamentary elections are important to us and what can we do, what we want and how women can be represented better in parliament.

I finished my schooling last year and now I have two shops in Kabul. One is selling kites and the other is a general store.

Zabiullah Tajzada
Zabiullah runs two shops

I have six brothers, five of whom work with me in the shops. I also have a film studio, where I make videos, which is profitable and I can earn between 2,500 and 3,000 Afghani per night. ($50 - $60). I am always busy.

During the Taleban years I had difficulty selling kites to the public, as they had banned kite flying. I was selling in secret, keeping the kites in storage. Once when they found me selling my kites they burned them all. After this time, one year into the Taleban rule, I moved to Pakistan and worked in the carpet industry.

I returned to Kabul one year after the Taleban rule ended and opened my shops.

I'm single and will marry through an arranged marriage, my bride will be chosen by my parents. I believe that my future wife should only work in the home and not have a job, but my children I want them to be educated.

I graduated from Kabul Polytechnic in 1987 where I studied water engineering and I now work for the Ministry of Rural development in Kabul.

Mohammad Amin
Water engineer Mohammad Amin lives in Kabul

I have stayed all my life in Kabul, even through the Taleban years, I couldn't go anywhere else. I live with my wife and have a family of five children.

One of my sons is not at school at the moment because he has had an accident, my other four children go to school every day.

I earn about 2,400 Afghani ($90) and I earn some extra dollars with my current project.

I travel out to the countryside to other provinces once a month and that is when I work very long days, spending nights working there too. In Kabul I work from 0830 until 1530 daily.

I enjoy my job, which involves surveying water projects and advising other companies on the type of work which needs to be carried out.

I've just come off night patrol now. Patrols here are rotated on a 24-hour system. I'm patrolling Police District 8, which is in the centre of Kabul. My patch is on high ground so the sunrise in the morning is amazing and the air is crisp and fresh.

Very early this morning, I was conducting checkpoints, searching cars and trucks for any potential suicide bombers. At around 3.30am the roads are fairly quiet. Sometimes I'm patrolling on foot, other times we are in vehicles. But from 4am the roads get hectic.

Taxis appear, you get ten people crammed into Corollas driving around town, donkeys and carts and trucks carrying tomatoes and very old watermelons are some of the types of vehicles we come across. I'm patrolling on the major supply route from Jalalabad. There are a lot of guys who work in brick factories here in Kabul who also travel this route.

I randomly stop and search vehicles coming in. This morning people didn't mind being searched so much. They were quite cheerful, much more than I was this morning.

This morning, I woke up at 5am and went to football training with my team. I play for the Afghan national team and soon we'll be going to play in Germany.

Maroof Gulistani
Maroof Gulistani trains early each morning

I train six mornings a week and then travel to work at the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. My family are building a house so I leave work every now and then to check on how the building work is going on.

I finish work at 4pm this afternoon and will go and meet some friends. Afterwards, I will go home and spend time with my family and watch TV.

Security is not as good as one would imagine by now. It has been more than three years of the new government. I still sit in the car and we lock all the doors.

Seema with some of the children from the orphanage
Seema's orphanage is home to 16 children

For the children as well - I'm not with them all the time of course, they go to school and come back by our own van, and some of them - the older ones - you know when I was their age, even the younger teenagers, when I was their age I used to walk to school and back or I used to take a public bus.



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