John Patten
Photos from Afghanistan

       I spent the first fifteen months in post-Taliban (until their resurgence) Afghanistan working
    for a humanitarian aid agency in Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan. It was a remarkable
    experience, as I was fortunate enough to travel farther afield on surveys and more extensively
    around the country than most of the other foreigners there. It became home in a way and I still
    remember fondly the people and places we visited. I took over a thousand photographs during
    my travels on a variety of topics and would like to present some of them here, as it was a labor
    of love.

        Afghanistan is a beautiful, complex country at the crossroads of history, with wonderful
    people despite the well-documented problems. I tried to take some photos of normal life and
    people enjoying themselves at times instead of solely the war damage and suffering so common
    in the mainstream media, who often did not venture outside of Kabul. There is suffering, and
    countries must work not to abandon the promises we made, but believe it or not people there do
    get through life with some of the same joys, difficulties, and family celebrations that we all have,
    in spite of the hardships most of us do not understand. How well you are doing often has to do
    with who you are, where you are, and in which time period. Many localized coping strategies
    had developed, however they are under strain now.

        Feedback on the photos and this site are most welcome. All photos and writings are
    copyrighted by myself, but written permission may be obtained for educational use or other
    purposes if they are not exploited for profit. I have allowed books or magazines to use some
    photos in their publications for a small fee. If you are a rich celebrity or socialite that has found
    themselves here but do not know how to contribute, my colleagues in the humanitarian field
    here in Washington, D.C. can help link you with the right programs that have gaps in funding
    and to use the money towards maximum effect and impacts for disaster victims, rather than just
    writing a check and hoping for the best. No funds would go through me. For guidelines on
    better aid, you can visit

    My contact info is:

        Additionally, I have also included my journal writings from that time as a link above. It is a
    very irreverent take on the humanitarian situation there in the early days of the war and has a
    sense of immediacy, as many daily entries were written right in the middle of it all. It can give
    some insights on various issues you will not find in other publications.

    John Patrick Patten                

    The following links may prove useful as well to view other photos:                                                                                                      
        I went back to Afghanistan and was in Kandahar from September 2004 to September 2006.
    I was with the PRT program and later at KAF working on civ-mil integration and planning
    platforms. I've been back several times since as a trainer, but do not anticipate going back now.
    I currently work on Interagency issues for the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance
    (OFDA). Hopefully I'll find some time to post more photos and writings from my time in
    Kandahar, which was a much different experience working with our government and military.
    Including training missions I have spent nearly four years in total in Afghanistan.
        Thank you to all those that have written in the past for your support, suggestions and

    Last Updated: February 24, 2013 from Washington, D.C.