Those of us in the Western world probably imagine of Afghanistan more in terms of soldiers and bombs than skaters bombing hills. Last summer, however, Noah Abrams learned about the country's emerging skateboarding scene, and the photographer immediately jetted to the war-torn nation to find a small but thriving culture—where children who have seen some of life's most brutal realities can still find fun on four wheels and a plank of wood.
"Skateboarding has been a part of my life since I was a kid," says Abrams, "and did a great to deal to help shape my personality and the way I view the world. So the idea of getting to spend some time with these kids and show them that by choosing to skate, they are part of something much larger than what is immediately around them was very important for me. In addition, the opportunity to have that kind of cross cultural connection and dialogue was just too intriguing to pass up."
Prior to going, Abrams did some research to put his family at ease about what danger he might encounter, but beyond that, he made a concerted effort to leave his preconceptions behind. What he found was nothing short of incredible.
"The smiles and genuine excitement the kids had for skateboarding were quite simply one of the most pure expressions of joy I have ever had the privilege to witness," he says. "To see that kind of happiness exist in a place that has seen such hard times, for me, was really humbling. I can really only speak from the time I spent in country, but in my experience, life there certainly isn't easy. However, spending time there was a great reminder that although culturally we may be very different, at the end of the day our goals as people are pretty much the same. We all want to be happy, and no one wants to suffer."
What follows is a selection from Noah Abrams's "Skateistan."