Afghan Journey

A Story of Friendship

Many Americans identify Afghanistan with Osama Bin Laden, the Taliban and the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

But for two young American journalists, two weeks spent in the southern Asian country resulted in transformations, both professional and personal.

Matthew Hansen, Dior Azcuy and Farhad PeikarLincoln Journal Star reporter Matthew Hansen, photographer Dior Azcuy and interpreter/driver/friend Farhad Peikar

"Afghan Journey: A Story of Friendship" follows former Lincoln Journal Star reporter Matthew Hansen and photographer Dior Azcuy as they travel to Kabul in October 2005 to explore the connections between Nebraska and Afghanistan for the newspaper.

Lincoln Journal-Star editor Kathleen Rutledge proposed the newspaper series "Beyond Bin Laden" because Nebraska and Afghanistan are connected in surprising ways -- Afghan refugees raise families in Nebraska, the Nebraska National Guard helps to train Afghan soldiers, and the renowned Center for Afghan Studies is part of the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

When the two young journalists stepped off a plane in Kabul, they stepped into another world.  There, not only did they discover a culture that is unfamiliar and strange, but a people whose love of life and country is infectious. This included Farhad Peikar, a young Afghan journalist who not only became their "fixer" -- their interpreter, their driver and the person with the needed connections -- but also their friend.

Every evening at a gritty Internet café in Kabul, Hansen and Azcuy shared their experiences online with readers back in Nebraska.

Through Azcuy's photographs and hand-held movies taken in Afghanistan, as well as blog accounts and more recent interviews with Azcuy, Hansen and Peikar, "Afghan Journey" looks at the friendship that develops between the three journalists, utilizing it as a metaphor for enlightened relationships on an international stage.