Life in Afghanistan and an unplanned flight to freedom - Part 4

Unbelievable Outcomes

Mazar-I-Sharif is a northern city in border with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It is a small city with a beautiful and famous shrine and mosque, the grave in the center of the shrine belongs to the fourth Khalifa of Islam. The city had a peaceful atmosphere; it was very crowded, all the shops were open . The lights of the shops, cars, and the houses made the view very different. I had been a long time since we had electricity in the capital city, so everything seemed different.

It took us four days to find a house for rent. After one week, we were completely settled and had no tension. We thought that probably after one or two months, my dad would find a job and everything would be fine. Unfortunately it was not true, wherever they paid well, they needed him to know English and computers and the places that did not need English or computer did not have good salary. Therefore, we finally decided that I would try to find a job, because at least I knew English. I got a job at UNICEF office, which works for children all over the world. They paid me $350.00 per month, which was a lot.

In spring of that year, after passing the exam, I was admitted to the medical school. I was so happy studying, working and helping my family, but it did not last long, because in June of 1997 the unwanted strict militias of Taliban attacked the city. The military counter of Mazar city took them out after one month and in three weeks, everything got back to normal. The UN offices also started their work, but their foreign workers were not allowed to come back to Mazar. Since I was working as an interpreter, I lost my job because there weren’t any foreigners to interpret for. I was lucky and I found a job in one week. I started working as a secretary an UNCHS Habitat. I was mostly dealing with all of their social projects. I was really happy, though my salary went down to $100.

Working on projects and knowing about UNCHS’s policy, I decided to gather some youth and make a group which would get some projects from this office and help the community. The main idea of it was using youth in useful projects and having them involved in social work. We had 64 people in our group in three weeks.

In October of 1998 once more the strict government of Taliban attacked Mazar city, they fought for two days and finally captured it. Everything changed; women weren’t allowed to get out of their houses, all offices and schools were closed. On the first day they entered the city, they started searching houses for guns. When they searched our house they could not find anything. Instead they took my dad with them and put him in prison. He was in prison for two days and was released after we paid the them.

No one was able to do anything, and though it was dangerous I met with some members of the youth group and started some home based school for little girls and boys who weren’t allowed to go to school. It was really appreciated form the people but still it was a big risk we were taking. It was totally against the law of the new government. Our courses were in basements; we met in hidden places far from the busy places and could hardly run our project but still were hopeful and worked hard. In January of 1999 UNCHS Habitat became aware of our activities and gave us a project with permission from the government. During working on this project, I was caught and put in jail by the Taliban. That was so horrible that I could never think about it. After four hours, my dad came, paid them and they released me.

Finally, we got the project done. The Habitat office really appreciated our work on it, they registered our youth group with the Peace Child office in UK, which works with youth and children. Now we were an official youth group under the name of YCDP-Youth and Children Development Program. By the summer of 1999, we had 3000 people in our group from all over the country. By getting votes, I got the position of the leader in the group.

In September of 1999, I got a letter from the Habitat office that included a copy of papers for a youth conference in Hawaii in October of the same year. Everything was okayed by the group members, the Habitat office and my parents. The last place I needed to talk to was the security office of our district. From the time the Taliban captured Afghanistan we did not have any embassy so I had to get my visa and ticket for my trip in Pakistan. Therefore, my father and I went to the district office to talk to the security officer. With all the strict rules, the government said I could not tell them I was going to the U.S. My dad told them I am sick and I need to go to Pakistan for better medical treatment. The officer said that according to Islam Sharia I had to marry first then my husband could take me wherever I needed to go. I was so upset and I thought there was no chance for me to participate in this conference.

My dad met some members of our group and we made up a different plan. My friend and I signed the marriage contract and the papers they needed to see and supposedly, I became his wife. The next day my dad and my friend went to their office and showed them all the paperwork. After taking some money, they accepted the papers and let me leave the city.

On October 8, 1999, I left Mazar city, my family and my friends. I never thought I would end up staying in the U.S. I stayed in Pakistan for ten days to get my visa and tickets. I left Pakistan on October 18, 1999. I was already assigned to stay with a family so the parents came and picked me up from the airport. They were so kind and felt responsible towards me. The third day of my staying in Hawaii, I got a phone call from my parents. They said the government has become aware of my coming to the U.S.A. and they have said that I will be hanged as soon as I get back. Therefore, they asked me to stay and do not think about going back to Afghanistan. On October 30th, the conference was done and my return ticket was booked for November 2. I did not know what to do.

I called my cousin who lived in Lincoln, Nebraska and told the whole story to him and he sent me an electronic ticket. I arrived in Lincoln on October 31, 1999. I filed for political asylum which was approved after one year. While I didn’t go back to Afghanistan, the Taliban was bothering my family and finally put my dad in jail instead of me. It was bothering me so much that I was living such a good life and they are suffering for me. I now live with my aunt’s family and go to the business college and I am waiting to see what happens next. Now since I am here, I want to make use of every minute of it and learn something so that I will be able to go back to my country and serve my nation.

A Call to Action

The story you have read is the true account of events in the life of one of the members of ARYA.

Through projects like "Blankets for Afghanistan", this woman's desire is to rebuild her war-torn country and bring peace to those she longs to be with again.

If you would like to be a part of the rebuilding process, your donations can be made via the link provided below.





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