Aqela is hunting for a job again. Women like Aqela in Kabul usually earn a living by working as daily wage labourers, cleaning homes and offices, doing laundry for people, washing dishes. Clad in her blue chaderi (burqa) she scours the street leading to Pashtoonistan Square for jobs. It is then that this unfamiliar sight catches her attention.

She spots a group of people painting on huge mural on a grey wall. You can spot these walls all over Kabul. They have sprouted across the city, shielding government offices, embassies, offices and homes of the rich and the powerful from attacks.

Out of curiosity, Aqela asks one of the women in the group what they were up to. Maryam Kohi, a volunteer with Art Lords, explains to Aqela and other curious bystanders that they are painting the wall as a part of a movement to remind people what Kabul stood for, before violence and corruption ripped it apart.

Maryam asks Aqela if she is interested in painting a bit. Aqela accepts the offer readily, it’s a welcome break from her daily grind.

Recreating Kabul

Like Aqela’s, Art Lords have touched the lives of many in Kabul. Ravaged by over three decades of war, Kabul is a shadow of what the city used to be.

Art Lords was founded by a group of people who wanted to give people a sense of what Kabul was like in the past.

“Our first goal is to beautify Kabul,” says artist and co-founder of Art Lords, Kabir Mokamel. When I meet him, the 45-year-old is at work, painting a blast wall in Pashtoonistan Square with Art Lord members and volunteers. Till now, the Art Lords have painted nine walls across the city.

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