March 29th, 2010
03:51 PM ET
November 23rd, 2009
11:13 AM ET

Kids smuggle food for cents along war border

Sara Sidner
CNN Correspondent

Sabar Mina is cloaked in a light green shawl tinged with dirt. She is holding an empty flour sack that she plans on filling with firewood.

Her eyes are soft and kind, but they bear the signs of exhaustion. There's a reason for that. Instead of going to school, the eight-year-old walks an hour to work.

All day long Sabar takes items back and forth between two of the most dangerous countries in the world, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Normally she smuggles flour from the Pakistan side where she is from. Pakistan has a ban on exporting food items to Afghanistan because of a spike in food prices, so flour is a hot commodity right now.

Once over the border Sabar gathers and carries firewood to take back from Afghanistan. Her job is hard and sometimes dangerous.

Keep Reading...

Filed under: Afghanistan • Sarah Sidner
October 24th, 2008
02:42 PM ET

Is two a marriage and three a crowd?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/23/art.sara.india.jpg caption="Kundar Singh Pundir, left, and his brother Amar, right, share Indira Devi, centre, as their wife."]
Sara Sidner
CNN Correspondent

I’m not sure we’ll make it. The one-lane, winding mountain road is riddled with landslides every few hundred feet. I am not afraid of heights but being smothered by mud and rocks is another matter.

It is rainy season and driving up 6,000 feet to a remote village in north India’s Himachal Pradesh state isn’t a well-timed idea. We do it, anyway; news deadlines and type-A personalities have a way of driving you forward even when the situation is a bit precarious.

We are not alone. We are sharing the pot-holed roads with huge trucks filled with rocks from a nearby mine, buses filled with people and herds of goats that wander across the road.

After two hours of sickeningly bumpy, slippery terrain we stop. We are almost there. Yes!

We have to walk the rest of the way. We grab about 40 pounds worth of gear and drag it through the streets.

There is a member of a non-governmental organization with us who insists on carrying some of it; we accept. Usually my photographer insists on shouldering the load, but today his back is saved the 20-minute walk into the village.

The village of Dugana is located in a remote spot. It is precariously positioned on the side of a very steep hill range. There is no room for bicycles and even less for cars to carry people and things. These are two-person, not two-car lanes.

We finally make it. The view from here is stunningly beautiful. You can almost touch the clouds drifting by. The hills stretch out in front of you like something out of a travel guide.

As an outsider the homes seem peculiar and quaint at the same time; I have to get in one. They look like doll houses on stilts and are built with tiny windows just big enough for a human head.

The villagers pop their heads out as we walk by. We are strangers and an unusual sight. I can’t help but stare back. I’m as interested in them as they are with me.

Now to why we made the eight-hour drive from Delhi: this village is still practising a very old tradition and we wanted do a story on it.

It won’t be easy. No matter where we travel in India we draw crowds. It is not us, it is the camera. There is no such thing as a private interview in a village setting. In this case the subject matter is of a very private nature. Still we can’t catch a break. People peer through the windows or circle around the camera to hear and see what is going on.

We begin while the crowd stares and listens.

Our subject? Polyandry: the practice of one woman marrying several husbands. It is custom here to marry several brothers (fraternal polyandry).


Filed under: 360° Radar • Sarah Sidner