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October 5, 2012

Afghanistan, September 2012

We tend to look at Afghanistan through the lens of conflict, with good reason. Deaths of American forces recently reached 2000 in the 11 years since US involvement in the country began. Afghan forces have suffered perhaps 10,000 losses, and even conservative estimates suggest as many as 20,000 Afghan civilians have perished. It's a heavy toll for one of the most impoverished populations on Earth. While acknowledging those human losses, it's important also to celebrate the lives of those carrying on in the face of bitter warfare and economic hardship. Although no facet of Afghan life remains untouched by conflict, gathered here are images made in September of ordinary Afghans getting on with the business of life. -- Lane Turner (27 photos total)

Afghan youths pose as they ride a donkey on the outskirts of Herat on September 7, 2012. Despite billions of dollars in Western development aid, the United Nations says half of Afghanistan's estimated population of 30 million live below the poverty line in what remains one of the world's poorest countries. (Aref Karimi/AFP/GettyImages)

Sunil, a young Afghan boxer, strikes a pose as he shows off his suit in downtown Kabul on September 24, 2012. Sunil, who asked for his photo to be taken, said he was wearing his best suit because he knew he would be seen by his friends who would congratulate him for winning an amateur fight the night before. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/GettyImages) #

An Afghan resident stands on his balcony in Mazar-i-Sharif late on September 4, 2012. (Qais Usyan/AFP/GettyImages) #

Afghan children wrap themselves in netting at a refugee camp in the Jawzjan region of Afghanistan on September 30, 2012. Almost six million people have returned to Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, but over 3 million people remain in exile mainly in Pakistan and Iran. (Qais Usyan/AFP/GettyImages) #

An Afghan man smokes a cigarette in a tea house at dawn in Kabul on September 24, 2012. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/GettyImages) #

A man smokes hashish in a backstreet of a market in Kabul on September 23, 2012. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/GettyImages) #

Ahmad Tazim, a construction worker, stands with his two sons Naim, 5, and Karim, 2, in front of his home in the hillside neighborhood of Jamal Mina high above Kabul on September 27, 2012. About 20 percent of the city's five million residents live on the hills that surround the city. Running water was recently installed in some homes here, but open sewers run down hill. According to the World Bank more than a third of the population of Afghanistan live below the poverty line, more than half are vulnerable and at serious risk of falling into poverty. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/GettyImages) #

Modest buildings crowd the side of a hill overlooking Kabul on September 27, 2012. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/GettyImages) #

Men sit on carpets to drink tea and eat sugar bread in the early morning in Kabul on September 24, 2012. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/GettyImages) #

An Afghan street vendor pours fresh juice into mugs in downtown Kabul on September 24, 2012. This vendor, selling banana and carrot juice for the equivalent of 20 US cents, is one of many Afghans who struggle to make a living with informal jobs. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/GettyImages) #

A street salesman prepares portions of a custard-like sweet called "Freny" in downtown Kabul on September 24, 2012. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/GettyImages) #

An elderly attendant pours hot tea into a cup at a tea house in Herat on September 30, 2012. Tea is a major drink in Afghanistan and in the popular tea houses, drinkers sit cross-legged on floor mats and sip their tea from glasses or elegant porcelain bowls. (Aref Karimi/AFP/GettyImages) #

An Afghan man drinks tea in a small restaurant in front of a carpet adorned with the image of the revered late military and political leader Ahmad Shah Massoud in Kabul on September 23, 2012. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/GettyImages) #

An Afghan boy carries a basket loaded with fresh bread in a back street near a market in Kabul on September 23, 2012. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/GettyImages) #

An Afghan villager rides a donkey in a dusty road in Zadyan district of Balkh province on September 23, 2012. (Qais Usyan/AFP/GettyImages) #

Afghani wrestlers compete in an impromptu arena in a field outside Herat on September 28, 2012. (Aref Karimi/AFP/GettyImages) #

An Afghan woman shouts as she and dozens of others marched to protest violence against women in Kabul on September 24, 2012. The death of a provincial head of the Ministry of Women's Affairs, and the public execution of a woman accused of adultery underscored the level of violence that Afghan women suffer. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/GettyImages) #

A blind Afghan student reads Braille during a lesson at a blind school in Kabul September 4, 2012. Afghanistan's only vocational blind school was established in 1977 and has more than 187 students. (Omar Sobhani/Reuters) #

An Afghan child is treated by a French military doctor in Role 3 French military hospital which receives both military and local patients in Kabul Airport on September 22, 2012. France is the fifth largest contributor to NATO's International Security Assistance Force, which is due to pull out the vast majority of its 130,000 troops by the end of 2014. (Jeff Pachoud/AFP/GettyImages) #

Afghan men and a boy work at the traditional blacksmith trade in Herat on September 17, 2012. (Aref Karimi/AFP/GettyImages) #

An Afghan boy poses for a photo in front of a picture of slain national hero Ahmad Shah Masood on the monument built in memory of him on the 11th anniversary of his death in Kabul on September 8, 2012. Masood, or the Lion of Panjshir, fought the Taliban at the head of the Northern Alliance representing Afghanistan's ethnic minorities, until his assassination two days before the September 11, 2001 attacks. (Omar Sobhani/Reuters) #

An Afghan child runs with a kite made by a French student association given by French soldiers on September 24, 2012, in a village on the road to Naghlu, the French army base. (Jeff Pachoud/AFP/GettyImages) #

Two school girls walk down a rocky path on a hill from their neighborhood toward Kabul on September 27, 2012. (Jawad Jalali/AFP/GettyImages) #

Afghan boys play football on a hill in Kabul on September 11, 2012. (Mohammad Ismail/Reuters) #

An Afghan man browses YouTube at a public internet cafe in Kabul on September 12, 2012. (Mohammad Ismail/Reuters) #

An Afghan man walks with his son at a market in Kabul on September 4, 2012. (Jose Cabezas/AFP/GettyImages) #

An Afghan health worker administers a polio vaccination to a child during a vaccination campaign in Herat on September 18, 2012. (Aref Karimi/AFP/GettyImages) #