My father is a Hajji, he went to Mecca last year, invited by President Karzai. No, he doesn’t know how to read and write. Neither do I. I don’t go to school because I have to take care my father’s twelve yaks, eight camels, and hundreds of sheep. I also have to take water and collect yak dung for fuel. Never in my life I leave Pamir. Life here is difficult, you see it’s snowing in summer. It should be the hottest time here by this time, but it snows. I have heard that the life in the world outside is good, you people have roads, have cars, you can travel everywhere you want with your cars. But I don’t want to leave this place. Don’t people say: It’s better be a beggar in your own country, than be a king in another country? This is my watan, my homeland, I will be here forever.

–Ayatullah, 17 years old, a Kirghiz cowboy from Pamir.

Pamir, Wakhan Corridor, Afghanistan, 2008

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