A Journey Home: Afghanistan through the Eyes of a Returning Refugee

Dost Mohammad Fahim Khairy, an Afghan who left his country in a time of great turmoil and was resettled in the United States refugee program, makes his first journey home to Afghanistan since he left on Sept. 15, 2001. A reporting team, comprised of lead reporter Jessica Wanke, reporter Don Duncan and photographer Peter van Agtmael, travels with Fahim and chronicles his experiences after years away from his homeland. Khairy's observations and experiences on this voyage are the lens through which the team looks at Afghanistan today.

Through Khairy, the team delves into issues of Western aid, continued military presence, development and protracted internal conflict. A political blogger, human rights activist and astute follower of developments in Afghanistan, Khairy is an ideal voice to narrate the changes his country is undergoing. Additional perspectives from the ground, from NGO workers to Western military personnel to local Afghans, will provide a broader context to understanding where Afghanistan is today, and where it is going.

Scarred Forts and Sandbagged Pubs

A visit there today makes it clear that there are two Afghanistans. There's the Afghanistan at war, to the south, particularly in the provinces of Helmand and Kandahar. But there's an Afghanistan at peace, with varying levels of stability from jittery, paranoid Kabul to the carefree Mazar-i-Sharif in the north - Afghanistan's fourth largest city - where I spent most of my time during a reporting trip in May.

Afghanistan Disabled

About one in ten Afghans is disabled, a legacy of decades of war and poor health care. In 1999, Dost Mohammed Khairy contracted Guillane Barre Syndrome - an infection that attacks the nervous system. He is one of 9,000 Afghans given refuge in the US since Sept 11. He established an organization here to help the disabled in Afghanistan. Recently he made his first trip back.

Aired on Foreign Exchange November 7, 2008