Swenson travels to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Sabrina Swenson, clad in her abaya, poses for a photo with a local man while traveling in Afghanistan.

(Editor’s Note: Sabrina Swenson, a 1986 graduate of Postville High School, is the daughter of Erma Swenson and the late Marlin Swenson. A world traveler, Sabrina is sharing her experiences of her recent trip to Afghanistan. This is the first of a three-part series.)

It shouldn’t need an introduction. We’ve heard her name for years. Officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, this landlocked, mountainous country resides in South Asia. It’s bordered by Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It’s capital, Kabul is its largest city. The population stands at over 35 million, mostly composed of ethnic Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara and Uzbek. Afghanistan remains one of the poorest countries in the world due to lack of foreign investment, government corruption and the Taliban insurgency. The 2001-present war has resulted in over 90,000 direct war-related deaths, which includes insurgents, Afghan civilians and government forces. Over 100,000 have been injured.

My trip began with a flight into Kabul. I secured a guide in advance, although interestingly, a guide isn’t actually mandatory for Afghanistan, but I thought it a good idea. Airport security is understandably strict. Those not flying are not allowed anywhere near the terminals.