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The topic of skateboarding in war-torn Afghanistan has been a well-documented movement which has once again highlighted the sport’s ability to inspire and innovate. VICE photographer Jonnie Craig spoke with Los Angeles-based photographer Noah Abrams regarding his documentation of the “Skateistan” movement for his online platform HUH.. A highlight of questions and answers can be seen below.
Cool. How did this Skateistan series come about?
I was sitting in my bed surfing the internet one morning and came across a video about skateboarders in Afghanistan. They were skating an old swimming pool that the Taliban had used to execute people in. It just struck me as one of the most positive things I had seen in a long time, especially out of Afghanistan.
So what happened next?
I started to do some research and came across a group called Skateistan who are doing amazing work for the kids in Afghanistan. After that I got really focused on finding a way to get over there and support them.
I’d imagine it’s particularly difficult to get to Afghanistan.
It’s definitely not easy. From idea to actually traveling there took around eight months. Getting the visas was the tricky part but we had some great support on the Afghan side. After all the organizing we had to fly from the US to Germany, then finally to Kabul. It takes a little over two days to get there and we were on a weird travel high when we arrived.
I never would have expected a group of skateboarders to be so warmly welcomed in Afghanistan.
Not to get preachy, but at the end of the day, people are people. Culturally we may be very different but our goals are pretty much the same — we all want to be happy. No-one wants to suffer. This is why, for me, doing a trip like this is so important in the grander scheme of things. It’s that cross-cultural dialogue that will hopefully help push things in the right direction for us all.