Jeffrey Stern

Watch Jeffrey Stern talk about life for ordinary Afghans

Pulitzer Center

The following projects are in collaboration with The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

The squatter

4 October 2013 | The South Asia Channel/Foreign Policy Magazine

The squatter

The mountainsides that surround Kabul are covered with squatter houses, the homes of people have claimed the land by building on it.  They’re undeterred by the steep grade; from below, many homes appear to be affixed to nearly vertical mountain faces.  Many of the highest houses are inaccessible by car, but to get close you take narrow roads quickly, speeding so you don’t stall or lose traction.  The steeper and wilder the terrain, the faster you go.

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Afghanistan: Why Are Traffic Accidents and Road Fatalities Underreported?

30 September 2013 | The Pulitzer Center

Afghanistan: Why Are Traffic Accidents and Road Fatalities Underreported?

I recently wrote that driving in places like Afghanistan is an exercise in a million close calls. Last week my driver was on the phone when we approached a large family unloading from a small car, and I saw a girl no more than four years old become fixated on something across the street. In an instant she took off running towards it, oblivious to traffic, and my driver, distracted and unable to see her anyway — she was that small, her head hardly above bumper level — had no idea.

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The migrant

27 September 2013 | The South Asia Channel/Foreign Policy Magazine

The migrant

Narges, who asked to only use her nickname, is soft-spoken and always colorfully dressed, usually opting for rich, dark fabrics. Her affect is, at first glance, demure, almost passive. But it belies a fearlessness and a clever wit, both of which she deploys constantly as an ardent defender of women’s rights who says she thinks her country has it all wrong, and who has maintained and defended this view, though there is little support for it even within her own family.

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The keyholder

8 September 2013 | The South Asia Channel/Foreign Policy Magazine

The keyholder

Omara Khan Massoudi is the Director of Afghanistan’s National Museum, guarding its treasures in various positions for more than four decades, and is the reason it has been brought back to life. He is an elegant man and old-fashioned in his habits, but his gentle air belies a ferocity with which he has fought to preserve the country’s archeological history, keeping the museum doors open even when there was no roof over head, no visitors in the halls, and hardly any artifacts in the display cases.

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The stargazer

2 August 2013 | The South Asia Channel/Foreign Policy Magazine

The stargazer

Yunus Bakshi, the founder of Afghanistan’s first astronomy association, is a small, soft-spoken but energetic man, who moves between a conservative family and liberal-minded friends.  Having studied in Russia, he has friends who sided with the Russians, friends who spied for them, and also, friends who fought against them.  We meet in a small office he keeps ostensibly for his astronomy club, but which at any given time also serves as a base camp for one or two drifters, friends of his in some state of transit.  Recently returned emigres, or those about to depart; people generally inclined towards the life of the mind but without work; writers, filmmakers, and poets.  Here, in a dark office with a few bare fluorescent bulbs hanging from the ceiling, over small sour cherries and cigarettes, he begins…

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Contact

Please contact Jeffrey Stern for pitches, assignments, story ideas, or projects in general.