Kabul day 8: Race against time
Today we expect the photographer and filmmaker to arrive at 08.00 at our hotel to leave together for the factory. We are still in an awkward position because we are planning to film with a filmmaker whom we have not yet met and we also haven’t seen his work once. Of course we tried to arrange all this before actually meeting him, but his contact unfortunately does not respond. The filmmaker doesn’t seem to know what we want and we also have no contract. So the question is: what do we do? We decide to send him home for the moment.
At the factory Samir is waiting for us. This is a contact we got from The Netherlands, and he may lead us to some models. Samir works at a foundation that educates women and gives them an opportunity to receive training, in for example professional hairdressing. We thought it would be a good idea to ask him for help. But he comes with another story which immediately sounds suspicious. He asks whether the Ministry of Women Affairs is aware of what we are doing. We get even more suspicious after Samir tells us that a group of Germans photographed an Afghan family a few weeks ago and were arrested because of this. After intervention by the Embassy the Germans were released soon, but the Afghans are still detained. We don’t know what this man wants, but we decide to thank him a lot for his advice and let him know that we definitely will not photograph an Afghan family. Then he shows us his visa papers. Like many others, he wants our help to go to another country. This remains one of the hardest parts of the work we do. So many people in need, and often so little one can do.
We are still waiting for ‘our model’ whom we met yesterday to contact us. We have a bad feeling that it’s not going to happen either. Meanwhile, it is extremely busy at the factory. As many birds as possible have to be completed for the photoshoot. We have to divide our attention between all the different parties present: the embroiderers, the photographer and, of course, Safi, who has to pass on all the changes. Meanwhile, operational manager Wajiha translates everything for us and guides everyone. Luckily enough this goes pretty well.
Farzana the photographer tries to capture the creation of the birds as beautifully as possible. Occasionally she lets us take a look and approve. It looks really nice! The employees are all giggly about the fuss. We have to change headscarfs quickly when it seems that some colors work better in the photo shoot. We drag the embroidery table outside because of better light and the women are fine with it.
We conclude the first day of the photo shoot with a good feeling. Although it is very difficult to make beautiful shots in a boring concrete environment, we are satisfied.