Only the Educated are Free

I’ve been working in Afghanistan for thirty years.  I covered the Russian invasion and withdrawal, the civil wars, the rise and fall of the Taliban.
AFGHN-10260-(1)  Mujahadeen Fighters, Nuristan, 1979
It seems that each time I return, control of a province or a city  has changed hands.  It was working in Afghanistan which taught me a lot about being a photographer.
BIO-10118Afghanistan, 1979
War and turmoil are a way of life in Afghanistan. One thing that is guaranteed, Afghanistan will endure anything and everything. The people who murmur Inshallah (God willing) don’t bet on tomorrow, but strive each day to survive and take care of their families.
Bamiyan, Afghanistan, 2007
 A Hazara boy has transformed old car tires into buckets.
 After working in the Bamiyan province and seeing the dire stuation of the Hazara people,  I founded ImagineAsia to work in partnership with local community leaders and regional NGO’s to help provide educational resources for students at all levels, from elementary schools to high schools and universities.
We are happy and proud to welcome Freshta, a  young Afghan student from Bamiyan, Afghanistan, who has received a full scholarship from Goucher College in Maryland.  ImagineAsia worked with the Afghan Girls Financial Assistance Fund.  Our joint efforts were successful in  bringing her here to study pre-med.
Freshta, Dulles Airport, Washington, D.C.
January, 2011
Ali Aqa lives in Bamiyan Province near Band-e-Amir. His family is poor, his clothes used, but this 15-year-old  isn’t deterred:  He plans to be a lawyer. Childhood memories include Taliban occupation of his village in Bamiyan.
“They burned everything, even my school,” he says. “I pray to God no regime comes like that again.  After seeing my picture of him in the National Geographic article on the Hazaras, many people wrote to me who would like to help him.  ImagineAsia is working to ensure that he also receives a college education.
AFGHN-12818Ali Aqa, Bamiyan Province
“The Hazaras are producing the most enthusiastic, educated, forward-looking youth, who are seizing the opportunities provided by the new situation.”
– Michael Semple, Deputy to the European Union special representative to Afghanistan in 2004 – 2007.
“We must not believe the many, who say that only free people ought to be educated, but we should rather believe the philosophers who say that only the educated are free.”  –  Epictetus

23 Responses to “Only the Educated are Free”

  1. You have a big heart in helping those children that are in need. Keep it up!

  2. ftoscano81 Says:

    Really a great jo!!!!

  3. Congrats Steve….

  4. nice photo’s you have thank you for sharing with us! I really enjoy watching it over and over !😉

  5. Khalid Rahim Says:

    Steve, Educated free manipulate the illitrate into doing things that the sane minority fear to tread that path. All these big
    wigs who sit in the Congress, Knesset and Parliaments of EU find time
    to enjoy cocktails with graduates from Cambridge, Havard, Oxford and
    Yale adding a few more of these Ivy School royalties and dictators that
    skim their nations.

  6. […] I've been working in Afghanistan for thirty years.  I covered the Russian invasion and withdrawal, the civil wars, the rise and fall of the Taliban.   Mujahadeen Fighters, Nuristan, 1979     It seems that each time I return, control of a province or a city  has changed hands.  It was working in Afghanistan which taught me a lot about being a photographer. Afghanistan, 1979        War and turmoil are a way of life in Afghanistan.   One thing that … Read More […]

  7. Any venture in building eduction system of Afghanistan will be definitely the best way to help…

  8. u r my favorite photographer, congrats from Brazil

  9. Beautiful and moving as always.

  10. This is all really incredible. Well done!

  11. Nice article,
    Bamiyan province is proud of Hazara, It tells us how it has suffer in history, another thing is that Hazara people are really hardworking.

  12. Khalid Rahim Says:

    Steve, a wise person once said; Education is not learning, it is the excercise and development of the powers of the mind. There are two
    great methods by which this end may be accomplished. It may be done
    in the halls of learning or in the conflicts of life. Unfortunately education
    imparted in developing countries do not cater to develop the powers of
    the mind, And so is the case in most Western nations which mostly leads to mind control by negative factors. In Afghanistan and Pakistan
    where nepotism fosters corruption and the two combined create the law of incompetency. Why should the Military-Industrial Complex be interested in educating the people of the under-developed / developing
    nations, unless they have awoken with new vision ” People are more important than Profits”? I hope we could get together again.

  13. nothing better to get deep into a culture of different country! Great pcitures!

  14. Jos Runarka Says:

    Thank you very much for sharing this Steve. Only education can enlightenment the people mind. Friday 21.01.2011 the biggest student protest in The Netherlands since the 60’s was held in The Hague due to budget cut in education by the current government. The western and modern industrial countries has the privilege to education we didn’t had in the third world.

    best regards,

    Jos Runarka

  15. Khalid Rahim Says:

    Steve, this is your lost friend of 1980 when you and lauren came to Quetta to watch the Sibi festival. Our last meeting was in 1982 in NY.
    I tried several timres to contact you through Magnum photos but failed
    now I live in Islamabad pondering how our generation has failed! This
    was one way to reach you, perhaps you may consider to reach back
    and help bring sanity in our lives.

  16. laura peischl Says:

    Hi Steve,
    you prove once again that a photographer is a messenger and the photograph is a powerful medium to shake people’s minds and make them think a little bit further than their close environment and their small lives.
    Everyone should have such a photography ,like the one of Ali Aqa, hanging on a wall in front of their eyes and think that what we have is always more than we need and that the biggest treasure of all is the hope and the power of dreams.
    Regards from Malta from an iPhoneographer

  17. Steve, it’s those mesmerizing eyes that seem to pull one inside the hopes, dreams and the possibilities life offers if one continues to struggle against adversity.

    Your vision is inspirational.

    Glen Allison

  18. Nomatter the technology ..a still image gives us time to understand and the opportunty to learn.

    Thank you for sharing.

  19. Avi Greenberg Says:

    Absolutely extraordinary narrative and images. Perhaps there’s reason for hope after all.

  20. Hello Steve – I have been so impressed by your photography for many years. I am a photographer and have taught high school photography for 20 years. I now teach at an all arts charter school in West Chester. I am so very deeply impressed by this blog here and all of the work you do to help others with your art and time. I truly hope that somehow I and my students can reach out to you to inspire us to become more powerful and resourceful in using our voice as artists and citizens of the world. Thank you for your beautiful images over the years, your sincere and hard work and hopefully the opportunity to meet you some day. Sincerely, Daphne Longo-Okcuoglu

  21. I was showing your pictures to my son the other day and telling him how great i think they are.
    he turned to me laughing and said ‘ooh! daddy’s got a role model’

    …but i think he may be right.

    I took this picture this week and I feel that looking at your work recently has inspired me to see things a little differently and to go much deeper into a culture when I visit a country.

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