UNAMA-trained Afghan photographers shine
11 January 2010 - Two Afghan photographers trained by world-renowned British photo-journalist Tim Page and UNAMA are already beginning to make their mark on the journalism scene in the country.
Barat Ali Batoor, 26, who attended the 10-week-long photography Master Class along with five other students, has been awarded a prestigious grant with the Open Society Institute in New York.
During the internship, Barat will use his generous US$ 3,500 funding to work on a project on the tendentious issue of child trafficking in Afghanistan.
"I will mainly be focusing on the north of the country. During the civil war, the warlords used to use young boys for sex and dress them up as girls. In fact, this still sometimes happens in the north at wedding parties. My purpose is to highlight this issue and make the public aware of this problem," he said, adding that the project will be completed with six months.
Barat, who recently returned from a workshop in Turkey, intends to highlight cross-border trafficking and cases of rape of minors by warlords. He will also open his first photo-exhibition on Afghanistan later this year in Melbourne, Australia.
Eighteen-year-old Ahmad Massoud, Page's youngest student, currently works with the wire agency, the Associated Press.
"This class was very useful to me. I am lucky to have got such an opportunity at such a young age. During the elections, for example, I got to travel to Jalalabad and Bamyan. It was a wonderful experience," exclaimed Ahmad.
Ahmad and Barat and four others, who were selected by UNAMA from over a 100 applicants, worked with Tim Page and travelled across the country as they covered the Presidential race last year.
"The knowledge that I got while working with Tim in those three months ... I would not have got anywhere else in three years. Projects like these are very helpful to young photographers like us. I learnt a lot of things from Tim. Among them was the understanding of the international photography market - how people work and what the market expects from us," said Barat.
According to Shoresh Mustafa Kalantri, UNAMA's Multimedia Chief, the "tools and skills taught to these budding photographers during the Master Class and the experience they've gained while working with the international community, will strengthen their foundations and open new opportunities for them."
Ahmad believes the time is ripe for young photographers in Afghanistan to flourish and convey the correct images of Afghanistan to the outside world. "We could not do this during the Taliban ... when photography was banned. Things have changed now. I want to be a good photographer and show the world our problems, as well as the beauty of Afghanistan," he added.
The best photographs from the Afghan Master Class will be compiled into a book and released to the public this year.
By Aditya Mehta, UNAMA