OPC Foundation Scholar Recounts Departure from Kabul

J.p. Lawrence, the HL Stevenson winner in 2015, was able to evacuate Kabul on a plane alongside U.S. embassy staff.

In a piece filed on Aug. 17, Lawrence recounted a harrowing departure, writing that after the Taliban took Kandahar and Herat, the second- and third-largest cities in the country, he tried to book a ticket out of Kabul but discovered that all commercial flights had been bought up. “We contacted the U.S. Embassy, who said we could leave on one of their flights,” he wrote.

“Sad farewells after living in Kabul for years peppered our final days. Goodbyes that didn’t feel good afterward. The week that Kabul fell, people’s faces revealed not only sadness and worry, but also hopelessness. They couldn’t leave by land because the Taliban had taken all the border crossings. And leaving by air cost more money than most could afford. They were trapped.”

Here is another one of the last Afghanistan-based stories he co-wrote for his employer, Stars & Stripes. A military veteran, Lawrence had an OPC Foundation fellowship with The Associated Press in Uganda.