A toddler sitting by the open water course in town, dipping an aluminium cup and drinking. The Japanese are paying for a paved road from the provincial centre to the town of Yakawleng, while the Americans are tarmacing the road to Kabul, hopefully reducing the journey from eight to three hours. Bamiyan is at once the most developed and the least developed province in Afghanistan. Only four miles of tarmac road in the whole province. The family walking through the fields at dawn, the little boy doing a zig-zag skip along the track. No mains electricity, not even in the provincial capital.
The Hazara people are relatively liberal, and all the girls we spoke to were very sure that men and women were equal and they had the right to follow any profession they wanted. A toddler sitting by the open water course in town, dipping an aluminium cup and drinking. Most houses have dirt floors. The adjacent rows of caves like church windows overlooking dark green fields of potato plants with pinkish-white flowers. So I left Bamiyan heartened by spending a little time in a beautiful part of Afghanistan, where people are working hard to overcome the legacy of conflict and neglect, but fearful for their future. Govenor Sorabi says that part of the problem is that governments like the British concentrate their development aid in violent provinces like Helmand where they want to win hearts and minds. They even have a female governor — the only one on the country. As one aid worker put it cynically: The towering mountains, some capped with snow in midsummer. There are projects, many funded by NGOs, to train mid-wives and female teachers. The white flowers which make the countryside so beautiful are potatoes not poppies, so no need for funds to counter narcotics. Only four miles of tarmac road in the whole province. Bamiyan is at once the most developed and the least developed province in Afghanistan. And on the roads leading into the province there are increasingly frequent insurgent attacks. Lindsey Hilsum The big picture is what strikes you first. The family walking through the fields at dawn, the little boy doing a zig-zag skip along the track. The Japanese are paying for a paved road from the provincial centre to the town of Yakawleng, while the Americans are tarmacing the road to Kabul, hopefully reducing the journey from eight to three hours. People came rushing up to practice their faltering English. In Bamiyan, the hearts and minds are already won — the Hazaras were victimised by the Taliban, so they see the foreigners as their protection. Everyone we met welcomed us. Three teenage girls in regulation white school headscarves, walking down a dirt road blowing bubblegum. No mains electricity, not even in the provincial capital. Children collect water from springs, loading up donkeys with jerry-cans, while women wash clothes in the streams which flow past their pale brown wattle-and-daub homes. But the poverty is desperate. Then you start to look at the details.
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