The one-month-old Afghan baby named Assad lost his father in a bombing that targeted the northern Afghan village where the family lives, shocking the tiny child whose voice immediately echoes around the commentary booth. But soon enough, Assad’s connections start to sprout. A video journalist asks him why he has been born here. Assad’s brother shows him what appears to be the baby’s photo, from a family scrapbook. And the local baker who becomes Assad’s forlorn father even breaks down in tears. Meanwhile, a social media activist in the United States e-mails Assad’s mother about who will have custody of him. And eventually, he leads her and Assad to safety, where the boy’s relationship with his mother continues to thrive.

Assad represents how much has changed in the 16 years since the rise of the Taliban. In one instance, that Islamic regime was led by a brutal and feared individual. While the Afghan leader embraced archaic Islamist measures to assert his own authority, the leaders the Afghanistan government now has in place, namely President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, are viewed by Afghans as more willing to engage the rest of the world and begin to move Afghanistan forward from isolation.