Skateistan is an NGO started by Australian skateboarder, Oliver Percovich, in Kabul, Afghanistan back in 2007. The objective of the organisation is to engage youth is a positive manner.
I managed to meet up with Percovich when I was in Kabul and he brought me on a tour of the facilities and introduced me to Merza Muhammadi, one of the trainers.
Muhammadi was working on the streets when Percovich met him and took him in. Now, he’s one of the best skateboarders in the country and helping to teach other youth.
Check out the video of Skateistan I shot below.
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This week is part 6 of my multimedia documentary, Guide To Afghanistan: The Adventures of a KL-ite, which includes video, still photos an text. As you would know, this is concurrent with the 10-part feature on The Malaysian Insider website, of which you can view part 6 here:
JAN 16 — Merza Muhammadi is one of the best skateboarders in Afghanistan. This 17-year-old is an instructor and mid-level manager at Kabul’s only skatepark, Skateistan, and is looked up to by hundreds of Kabul kids. But Merza hasn’t always been in this positive situation. Only four years before, he was working the streets cleaning cars to help support his family.
“Skateistan has been a real positive influence in my life,” said the ever-smiling Merza.
Started in 2007, Skateistan is more than just an ordinary skatepark. It’s an NGO that aims to bring together the many different ethnic youth in Kabul, whether privileged or not, through the sport of skateboarding.
“Skateboarding really fits the Afghan psyche in the sense that it challenges the local kids to overcome personal fear and limitations in whatever situations,” explained founder and executive director, Oliver Percovich.
Merza had always been interested in skateboarding ever since he saw pictures in a skateboarding magazine, but never had the opportunity to try it out. Not until he met Oliver who was working in Kabul at that time and often skated near an old fountain in a park on the outskirts of the city. That was back in 2007. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]
Zan Azlee, a Malaysian KL-ite journalist who has lived all his life in non-conflict zones, travels to Afghanistan to see if he can come up with the best travel guide for the country. With no idea what he is getting himself into, he dodges suicide bombers and IEDs, and even gets embedded with the army, to plan out the best tourist route in Afghanistan. This is a multimedia documentary produced by Fat Bidin Media and directed by solo-journalist Zan Azlee.
Click the thumbnails below to launch the photo essay (Part 6).
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