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Yasamin Sohrabi

It has been 449 days in Islamabad Pakistan as I am writing this. I Peghla Yasamin Sohrabi, my younger sister Peghla Frozan Sohrabi and my elder brother Mohammadi Sohrabi have left Kabul on August 12th 2022 after a lot of struggles in order to find a way to pursue our education as it has always been a priority to our family. Being a girl in Afghanistan is hard because others can decide about your life. However, we do have families who support their girls to have an education. We have been lucky enough to have such a supportive family. I still remember the night we left Afghanistan. It was one of the difficult nights of my life. It was a tough decision to make because we had to leave rest of the family behind our parents, our young siblings one sister and one brother under the Taliban’s rule. A family who had invested all its energy and money on education and Afghanistan was not a home for them anymore. The hardest part was we did not know when and where we can meet again. On the other hand, we could not stay anymore in our country for many reasons. We are Hazara a minority group in Afghanistan who has been always discriminated and marginalized for their ethnicity and their beliefs. Moreover, we had lost the opportunity to education, safety and our jobs. Therefore, we had to make a vital decision for a better future and leaving Afghanistan. 


After the takeover of Kabul by Taliban on August 15th 2021, living in Afghanistan became more challenging as Hazaras which made us the most worried about our future. Indeed, Taliban did commit genocide against Hazaras through the history and specially in the last years. They committed suicides attacks in most of the schools, educational centers, mosques, sport clubs, public cars and many areas in Barchi in the west of Kabul where most of the Hazaras are living as we are. My sister Frozan is one of the survivals of the suicide attack at Mawood an educational center in Barchi. After some weeks, the educational center changed its place and named to Kaj and started its activities again. However, my sister had lost her friends and classmates she and her fellows never gave up and completed their courses with both fears and hopes. Unfortunately, again there was a suicide attack at Kaj in the last year and we lost many Hazara students and mostly girls. In the last years, Barchi has been in its terrible security situation. There is never a day that goes by without an explosion. When one of our family members go outside of the house, we always fear that we may never see each other again, but this situation also makes us determined to continue harder. Maybe one day we can bring changes in our society, and the only way we can do that is through our education. As girls in a war zone country, we have faced many challenges and problems to achieve our goals, and we think it is unfair if we are forced to give up now.


We are in search of identities where we lost it in our homeland. We as women our hopes and dreams for a better future are in jeopardy. With the US leaving, millions of Afghan women, girls, and minorities are left again vulnerable to the extreme brutality, oppression, and discrimination that for years had made Afghanistan one of the world’s worst places to be born female. The rise of the Taliban had a negative impact, especially for women and girls. They have proved in history that they do not want any educated woman. Indeed, no girl is allowed to continue her education under the Taliban’s rule. As girls in a war zone country like Afghanistan, we face many challenges to get an education. Many people in our society still do not wholly accept that girls have the right to study. Women are still struggling to gain some fundamental rights and with Taliban’s return, the situation has been worsening for girls and women in Afghanistan. The education is totally banned on girls and women. Despite all obstacles that we face, we have a passion for learning, and we are determined to get an education. On August 14th 2021, I was a law student at the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF), the only university with high standards, and an English instructor at Kateb English Department one of the private universities in Afghanistan. My sister was a sophomore student in Economics faculty of Kabul university. We lost all in one night. On August 15th 2021 when the extremist group Taliban came to power, we were no one but Afghan girls who lost their identities under the burqas. Besides, we lost our jobs and the one and only source of our income. Meanwhile, I and my sister got admission in one of the universities in the US by the name of Western Kentucky University on 16th of August 2021. Still I have no words to explain the moment we got admissions. In the darkest moments of our lives, it was the only hope to stand and continue. 

However, it had its own challenges. We did not receive a fully funded scholarship and as far as our family is not in a stable financial situation to help us with the all tuitions, so it made it harder to join the university. Moreover, there was no US embassy in Afghanistan to get our visa. Therefore, we needed to come to Pakistan for our visa. After a year of struggles and with the help of some great people from Western Kentucky University, we made it to Islamabad, Pakistan. 


In Islamabad, we are currently living in a small room in a guest house in Peshawor Mor which is a place most of Afghan refugees are living as far as it is affordable and close to embassies. In the guest house where we live actually it is a house with eight small rooms that in each room one family is living. Each room hardly can contain two or three single beds. It is expensive to rent a hotel or a house, so most of Afghan refugees like us rent a room in a guest house. It has a shared kitchen for seven or eight families that sometimes it gets so crowded. Even this is expensive for Afghan refugees to pay and of course for us too. Our room is a small one which hardly contains three single beds. A typical day of ours is like we go for shopping groceries to a market by the name of Joma Bazar which has everything we need, and it is only open three days in a week. The groceries are affordable than the markets in our area. In the afternoons, we mostly go for walking. Then in the night we read some books or articles and watch some series or documentaries. It is a typical day of us. We do not have fun activities at all. 


It is all we do in a day such as shopping groceries, cooking, walking and mostly stay in our room and of course waiting to get our visa. We have waited a very long time and it is not easy. We are in our twenties and it is really challenging to stay in another country with no job and income. We as refugees do have a lot of problems and challenges in Pakistan like the high rent of the housing, the visa which every 58 days we should go back to Afghanistan and update it if we want to stay for the next 58 days in Pakistan. Secondly, economic situation of Pakistan is not really stable. The prices are increasing every day. We cannot work here due of the statues of our visa. We are not allowed to work legally. So this makes the situations really tough for us. 


A small number of women in Afghanistan are educated and as part of that small minority, and we feel lucky and privileged. Being this lucky always makes us think that there is a reason that we are here, and that makes us never want to give up our quest to be educated. We went through war for years, and now we need creative solutions for problems. I believe we can have the right kind of solutions if we have the right kind of education. We feel that getting that kind of education in the US can help us. We never want our story to be a story of pain and suffering, but a story of courage and persistence.


To conclude, we are in danger of compulsory deportation from Pakistan because our visas will be expired in two months. We have not come this far to end up going back to zero. 449 days in Pakistan and a year back then in Afghanistan under the Taliban’s rule were the toughest days of our lives. So for getting our student’s visas we need your support. Your contributions can change our destiny.