A generation of Afghan widows, raising children who will be forged by loss

How do you explain death to a 3-year-old? Mrs. Kakar, her baby, Sarfarz, in her arms, tries to distract him with toys. But when Benyamin keeps crying, she takes him to the balcony and points to the brightest star shining through Kabul’s polluted sky.

“Aba is there,” she says.

The war in Afghanistan is disproportionately killing young men, and it is leaving behind a generation defined by that loss. Children like Benyamin will have only early memories of their fathers, and the deaths will shape their lives even as true recollections fade. Babies like Sarfarz will have even less, with death taking fathers they will never know.

Carrying it all are the tens of thousands of widows the war has created since 2001. Like Mrs. Kakar, they are left to raise families in a country with a dearth of economic opportunity and plagued by a war that kills 50 people a day.