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Afghan revival

About the author
Charlie Devereux is a freelance journalist and photographer. He was a member of the openDemocracy editorial team from August to December 2005


Listen to Charlie Devereux talk to Reza, photographer and founder of Aina (8.09mins)
High bandwidth: 128kbps / Low bandwidth: 64kbps


"The media world looks at humanity ... only through a narrow group of people, who are (mainly) western, 30 to 40 years old and male," says the Iranian photojournalist Reza. "What I believe should be done is the training of more local journalists; let them talk about their own stories and you will see what an incredible difference it makes - how they look at their own culture and how we will accept what they are saying about it."

This line of thinking led Reza to set up Aïna, an NGO "for the 21st century." Established in Kabul in December 2001 (shortly after the expulsion of the Taliban by American forces) the aim of this NGO was to provide media training to Afghan men and women.

Its activities include a publishing house which produces magazines, newspapers and newsletters, including Kabul Weekly, the first independent newspaper to be published since the fall of the Taliban, and Malalai, a magazine for women which emphasises women's rights and discusses women's roles in Afghanistan's new constitution.

In 2003 Aïna launched Voice of Afghan Women, the first women's community radio station in Afghanistan, which broadcasts educational and development-based programs in both the Dari and Pashto languages.

Aïna's Institut de Communication Visuelle runs photojournalism and video workshops. The photography section's commercial arm, Aïna Photo, is one of the few photographic agencies to operate outside the occidental media; its photographers have seen their work published in international magazines and newspapers.

The diversification of media outlets in the coming years may threaten conventional photojournalism, but can organisations like Aïna allow us to paint a more comprehensive and heterogeneous picture of the world?

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