Afghanistan, Fostering Sons
Educating young men in Afghanistan has far-reaching benefits beyond the gift of learning. After completing vocational training programs, these men can support themselves. Additionally, through interactions that span generational, ethnic, and tribal lines, they are guided away from violence and toward positive habits that strengthen their families and communities. As a result, multiple generations of men are now learning new job skills in areas where decades of conflict have limited income opportunities.
Mercy Corps’ vocational training in southern Afghanistan targets out-of-work youth. The program teaches job skills and financial literacy, enabling students to navigate the world independently. Fathers and sons often enroll in programs together, where they can choose from courses such as carpentry, metalwork, tractor repair, mobile phone repair, and plumbing. Families of the young men who complete the program routinely comment on the profound positive changes within their sons. Along with personal change, over 80% of students start businesses or get jobs.
In August 2021, the Taliban reclaimed the country, and the future of this program is uncertain. These photos were taken during the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, when Afghan society was more stable than it is today.