ONE PHOTO - ONE STORY

15.03.2016

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For her project, Undaunted: four women in Kabul, Lela Ahmadzai followed the lives of four Afghan women over a period of six years. In addition to the photographs that have already been exhibited at the Willy Brandt Haus in Berlin, Ahmadzai has also produced a documentation in collaboration with 2470.media, a multi-media storytelling production company. Journalist Stephan Bader shares the story of one of the four women, the baker Reza Guel.

“Every day, Reza bakes one hundred loaves of bread in her traditional clay oven, to finance her seven children and her opium-addicted husband. Ten hours a day sitting cross-legged with hunched shoulders over a hot tandoor. She works hard to give her children a better education; but for how long? The renewed strengthening of the Taliban has her worried. If the radicals were to return to power, Reza fears that she will no longer be able to continue to ply her trade.

It is only due to special circumstances that a woman like Reza – illiterate, married at 16, traditional family structure – is allowed to earn her own living. In her case, it is the fact that her husband is unable to work. Reza lost her first husband, whom she had loved, during the civil war in the 1990s. To be able to keep the two children she had from that marriage, she was obliged to marry her brother-in-law. He started out by caring for the family, but while he was working abroad in Iran he became addicted to opium. Nowadays he is ridiculed – less for the fact that he is addicted than for the fact that Reza has to feed the family in his place. They have been married for 12 years and have five children in common.

Reza has lived in Kabul since she was born. She lived through the Soviet occupation and the subsequent guerilla war, the Taliban regime, as well as the American bombing following the attacks of 9/11, 2001. Makroyan, where Reza has her bakery is a somewhat well-to-do neighbourhood: this is where many former officials and functionaries from the Soviet era live. Reza herself lives in a remote area in a hut she built herself on Qalai Zaman Khan hill. She has to walk about an hour in each direction to get to work.”

Lela Ahmadzai

Lela Ahmadzai was born in Kabul and came to German when she was 17 years old. She has been returning regularly to Afghanistan since 2003, documenting the societal and political changes in her homeland. In 2009 she got her degree in photo journalism and documentary photography in Hanover. Nowadays she lives in Berlin and is one of the joint owners of 2470.media multi-media studios.

www.ahmadzai.eu
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