Selected excerpts from Afghanistan- Hearts & Minds
IDP camp
IDP camp
Map of Helmand Province
Bazaar in Helmand Province
Unlike most wars throughout history where soldiers wore clearly marked uniforms and fought on battlefields, Taliban fighters hide among the civilian population. They plant roadside bombs, recruit teenage boys as suicide bombers, and secretly terrorize communities from the inside. Because the enemy is hard to detect, the fighting can be messy and a lot of innocent people have been caught in the middle. With their homes bombed and burned by both sides in the fighting, thousands of people packed up what little they had left and ended up at the Charahee Qambar camp.
Poppy field in Afghanistan
Afghanistan's poppy production supplies the opium that goes into over 90% of world’s heroin. In 2007, it had an approximate export value of about $4 billion, with 25% of the money being earned by poppy farmers and the rest going to insurgents, warlords, corrupt government officials, and drug traffickers.
One of the ways that insurgent groups make money is through kidnapping Western travelers and releasing them in exchange for hefty ransom amounts.
Afghanistan- Hearts & Minds, page 15
The notorious Charahee Qambar IDP camp (IDP= internally displaced persons) rested on the outskirts of Kabul. The residents were from southwestern Helmand Province where U.S. and NATO forces had been battling the Taliban for years. While Kabul residents understood their tragic plight, the IDPs were mostly illiterate poppy famers— considered uncivilized, radicalized, and from Taliban country. Rumors of killings and kidnappings abounded, and people with common sense stayed far away.

I was determined to visit. These people needed friends and Najib needed to expand his networks. Common sense had never really been my thing either.

Peering out our car window from the edge of the camp, we couldn’t see anything but mud. Mud ground, mud walls, and hundreds of little mud-hut houses that stretched on as far as the eye could see. Like other IDP camps in the Kabul area, they were forced to use the only resource available to build their homes: mud.
NextPrevious Photo Credits
Map of Helmand: CC BY-SA 3.0,

Plight: By Brian Lautenslager via DVIDSHUB (8th ESB Bridge Platoon [Image 15 of 16]) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons