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U.S. Lawyer Works to Change the Afghan Legal System

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NPR; December 15, 2013

In 2008, attorney Kimberly Motley picked up and left her native Milwaukee, where she lived with her husband and two kids, and moved to Kabul. It wasn't just the first time she's been to a conflict zone, it was the first time she'd ever been out of the country.

"My kids were younger, and so they didn't totally understand what I was doing," Motley tells NPR's Rachel Martin. "My husband was extremely supportive. Anyone outside of that in my family just didn't really quite get it."

And, to be frank, says Motley, she wasn't entirely sure what she was doing either. She thought it'd be a good career move — work in Afghanistan for a year with the State Department, train lawyers there, learn and make some money, then return to her work as a public defender in the U.S.

But what she saw in Afghanistan shocked her. Motley remembers a prison tour in which prisoners were making tools. Looking around the room, she noticed how the prisoners far outnumbered the guards, and imagined how easily an attack might happen. "In addition ... there wasn't any running water, it was extremely cold because there wasn't any heat, any electricity, you hear coughing everywhere," she remembers. "It was a very eye-opening experience."

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