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The Taliban have declared war on females seeking education in Afghanistan.  This has led them to not only firebomb schools but to murder and throw acid in the faces of young girls.  This Afghan child was photographed in Kapisa Province. The life of rural Congolese women is very difficult and much time is spent collecting and carrying firewood sometimes up to ten kilometers.  Despite the hardship this captivating Congolese manages a smile that speaks for itself.  Near Nyongera in Rutshuru territory of North Kivu, DRC. This little girl was expelled from her family after being accused of witchcraft and now lives in a children's (girls) homeless shelter called Ek'Abana established by a selfless Italian sister in Bukavu, South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo Rizizi Plain, South Kivu, DRC Young Afghan girl in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan
'My friend' in Banandjale a small village along the Congo River south of Ubundu, Democratic Republic of Congo This child, with a very bad case of worms, has little to look forward to other than disease, poverty and abduction or murder in Koch-Goma IDP Camp, Gulu District, northern Uganda. This former Ugandan sex slave and soldier recently escaped from the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).  She is now part of the Gulu based Kica-Ber 'forgiveness is good' - an infant NGO created and run by former LRA child soldiers with modest support from UNICEF.  Kica-Ber helps train its members in trades such as carpentry, tailoring, masonry and baking and currently seeks to raise further funds in support of its goals. Young Afghan girl in Helmand Province, Afghanistan The intensity of a determined Afghan fighter should never be underestimated.  Tagab Valley, Kapisa Province, Afghanistan
The piece of mind that comes from having a good friend watch your back in a war zone cannot be overstated.  'Shrek', a larger than life French Foreign Legionnaire with whom I ran on multiple combat missions in and around Alasay and Tagab Districts over a period of four months in eastern Afghanistan, stops to catch his breath as we climb yet another mountain during an Operation in mid winter. This little boy in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan will either become a voice of moderation or join the insurgents depending upon a multitude of factors including the observations that he will make over the years as his remote village fights for survival and interacts with the Taliban and coalition forces. In Manhattan, Paris or Rome this teenage girl could easily pass for as an international supermodel. However, in rural Congo she is condemned to a life of fear and desperation as she will undoubtedly struggle all her life not to prosper but to survive.  Miles from the nearest dirt road in Masisi, North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo Young Congolese children at sunset in Katanga on the shores of Lake Tanganyika A child soldier near Jiba from the FNI militia (Nationalist and Integrationist Front) which is made up of members of the Lendu ethnic group.  They have been accused of terrorizing villages of the Hema in Ituri District, Democratic Republic of Congo
Pygmy mother and son in Nyabiondo, North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo Although for the most part brave and determined, the problem with the Afghan National Army in the field is that roughly 10-20% are sympathetic to the Taliban or Hizb-i-Islami depending upon where in the country you are.  This fact made embedding more risky and necessitated significant precautions.  A Congolese mother and son's expression speaks volumes of the anxiety and untold suffering from living in such a volatile part of eastern Congo.  Aveba, Ituri District Pygmy mother and son in Nyabiondo, North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo Idjwi Island, Lake Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo

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copyright © 2005 by Keith Philip Lepor. All rights reserved.