Lessons learned from aid work and reporting in Afghanistan

U.S. army members pass out toys and school supplies to Afghan children during a visit to a returnee and refugee village. (U.S. Navy photo by HMC Josh Ives/released)

For today’s Humanosphere podcast, we will be talking about Afghanistan. Tom Murphy speaks with journalist, aid worker and now-author Will Everett about his new book and lessons learned from years spent working in Afghanistan. The conversation touches on Everett’s experience on a massive aid project in the country and why the U.S. is struggling to support in rebuilding the country.

Will Everett

Will Everett

All stems from Everett’s book, We’ll Live Tomorrow. It tells the story of an aid worker and a young Afghani man. The aid worker struggles to put his life together after a personal tragedy. He meets a young man, a former bacha bāzī (translated as “boy play”), who also struggles with his past. It is a gripping story that reveals how the aid industry and U.S. foreign policy interact in Afghanistan as the two sometimes have differing ideas.

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Afghanistan has been in the headlines lately for a wide range of reasons. Last month, The New York Times broke a story detailing how U.S. soldiers were told to ignore the abuses carried out by Afghan allies. It brought bacha bāzī back into public attention. The practice was banned by the brutal Taliban during its rule in Afghanistan, but came back after the U.S. invasion more than 10 years ago.

A recent attack on a Doctors Without Borders hospital and the decision by President Obama to keep more troops in Afghanistan have also brought attention to the country and the role of foreigners in supporting it. These issues and more are discussed in the conversation with Everett. He uses his experiences to describe ways that the U.S. can do better in Afghanistan.

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But before we get to that conversation, Tom Murphy and I discuss some of the top stories on Humanosphere this week. Correspondent Katie Nelson has a story about an alternative currency in a Nairobi, Kenya, slums. And then we discuss the unfortunate problem of road deaths. The good news is many of the 1.25 million annual deaths are preventable. To finish up, Tom describes how a confluence of events in Nepal has led to a major fuel shortage and limited aid supplies just as winter approaches.

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About Author

Imana Gunawan

Imana Gunawan is Humanosphere's social media manager and podcast producer. A University of Washington graduate in journalism and dance, Imana's interests include underrepresented communities, the intersection between politics and culture, global-local issues and the arts. She can be reached at @imanafg on Twitter or imana@humanosphere.org

  • Vance Krupp

    Excellent conversation about issues that we should all care more about. The Afghan reconstruction is definitely unsustainable. Right on, Everett.