Afghanistan, October 2011

With a per capita GDP of $900, Afghanistan ranks as one of the world's ten poorest countries. By any measure, challenges are numerous. Aid agencies observe an erosion of women's rights as foreign troops prepare to leave, the infant mortality rate is among the world's highest, and despite eradication efforts, 90 percent of the world's opium is still produced by Afghan farmers. Meanwhile, military fatalities approach 2800 since the war began in 2001. Civilians are afforded no such precision for their casualties, with varying estimates in the tens of thousands being the only accounting. Gathered here are images from the country made in October of the lives of women and children, daily life, and consequences of the conflict in Afghanistan and in the United States. -- Lane Turner (37 photos total)Meena Rahmani, 26, owner of The Strikers, the country's first bowling center, holds a bowling ball in Kabul. In an Afghan capital scarred by years of war, a young Afghan woman has bet $1 million that the country could use a chance to have a bit of fun. Located just down the street from Kabul's glitziest mall, it offers a place where Afghan men, women and families can gather, relax, bowl a few games and not be burdened by the social, religious and cultural restrictions that govern daily life in the impoverished country. (Muhammed Muheisen/AP)