Published internationally in July 2003 as Kabul: The Bradt Mini Guide.
First published in Kabul in September 2002 as a pamphlet.
September 12 2002
A Guide to Kabul That Helps The City’s Street Kids
Jude Barrand reporting from Kabul
A guide to Kabul co-written by Caritas Communicator, Jude Barrand is helping put a few dollars in to the pockets of a handful of street sellers in the Afghan capital.
The Survival Guide to Kabul is a 16-page pocket reference tool for all city-dwellers.
It lists hotels, restaurants, and all the sporting and cultural events in the city. An exclusive article by the region’s most famous author, Ahmed Rashid, (the bestsellers Taliban and Jihad are his best known books) has also boosted the small pamphlet’s success.
“As the first 500 copies rolled off the press we realised we needed to find an effective way of getting our guide to Kabulis and expats alike,” explains Dominic Medley from Internews, an NGO that trains journalists worldwide.
“The most obvious solution was the street children who hawk the city’s many weekly newspapers down at the main traffic inter-section in the commercial hub of Kabul. We get wonderful distribution through the children, and they get to keep the money they make by selling the guides.”
The children have been quick to catch on to the money-spinning venture and every morning come to the Internews office in Kabul to pick up their daily quota of copies to sell.
Armanullah is 12 and has been selling papers on the streets of Kabul ever since the city’s printing presses started up again after the fall of the Taliban. Before that he scavenged in rubbish tips for food.
“I am happy to be selling this paper,” he says of the guide. “I get to keep all the money I make and some foreigners especially give me alot.”
Up at the Intercontinental, Kabul’s biggest hotel, foreign journalists wander through the lobby holding Survival Guides to Kabul.
On gently interrogating two reporters from the main Japanese television network, it emerges they bought their guides from the street children. Each paid a dollar for their guide.
Donal O’Reilly, the Kabul Office Programme Manager for Caritas Member Organisation, CRS, was one of the many accosted by the street children at the traffic lights.
His reaction was to pick up his phone and call the authors to congratulate them on the positive off-spin to bringing out a guide:
“You’ve got a real income generating scheme going here,” he laughed. “The kids are out here selling the guide to anyone they can. It looks like they are making a killing.”
A second print run of 1,000 copies with a colour front and back page is due to hit the streets in the next few days. Demand is running high.
The guide has been photocopied by the American Embassy and is being put in every welcome-pack handed out to the embassy’s new arrivals.
Aside from the information and tips for surviving Kabul, there is a section explaining the Caritas presence in Afghanistan and our global role.
There is similar section devoted to Internews.
The guide is available on the web for those planning a trip to Kabul, and the plain curious at www.afrikamedia.com/afghanistan.htm (now www.kabulguide.net).
Sadly owing to Internet access restrictions there are no pictures on-line yet, but the authors of the guide hope to rectify that shortcoming in the next few weeks.
The Survival Guide to Kabul©