“I don’t care about being recognized, and I don’t care if I go through life with no fame to show for my efforts. What bothers me is if people don’t take my latest work seriously. Not for my sake, but for the sake of the people who allowed me to photograph their lives. When was the last time you saw a 4 year old sucking down heroin? Is it not a tragedy? If I can’t do anything to bring attention to their plight, and if nobody cares, then what am I doing with my time and in fact, my life? It was never about awards or anything like that. I thought it was about being out in the world, witnessing things that others don’t see, and sharing these stories with a larger audience. I always said that I do what I do because I only have 2 hands.”
A.K. Kimoto, a Japanese photographer born in the U.S. in 1977, passed away unexpectedly in the last week in March while preparing to visit FotoFreo Photo Festival in Australia.
It really strikes me how intimate this amazing photographer is with his subjects. Beautiful haunting images on opium addiction in Badakshan, Afghanistan.
Mr Kimoto, although I don’t know you, but i feel your images and your words, it touches my soul and my core, inspiring me to use my eyes and my hands. Perhaps do something about these tools. Thank you for your words and images, especially during this period of my life! Rest in Peace.
Please visit The tribute exhibition to AK Kimoto “I do what I do because I only have 2 hands” on May 8, 2010
Opium Addiction in Badakshan
In the remote North-Eastern province of Badakhshan in Afghanistan, opium and heroin addiction are ravaging isolated mountain communities, and the staggering numbers are only getting worse. In some places, it is said that 70% of the population use drugs in some form, from hashish, to raw opium and refined heroin powder. It is not uncommon to find three generations of a family smoking together behind closed doors.
Traditionally, Opium was used as a cure-all, the magic medicine that could work wonders on anything from back pains to headaches to the nagging cough that every one has during the brutally cold winter months. The residents of Ishkashem, on the Tajikistan border say that it was never a problem before. Now, the situation is changing. In Ishkashem, it is said that at least 50% of the population has a serious drug addiction problem. Other remote villages further down the inaccessible Wakhan Valley are said to have an unbelievable 70-80% addiction rate. Children are born into addiction every day, and thus, the cycle is perpetuated.