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'As An Afghan Teacher, My Heart Aches For Broken Dreams of Little Girls'

It took us 20 years to get to here. But it feels like we have lost everything overnight, writes an Afghan teacher.

Published
My Report
4 min read
'As An Afghan Teacher, My Heart Aches For Broken Dreams of Little Girls'
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(This article is based on a phone conversation with an Afghan woman based in Kabul. The Quint will be publishing many such oppressed voices of women from Afghanistan. Write to us at hope@thequint.com.)

"Rizwana teacher, Rizwana teacher, Rizwana teacher!"

It has been one month since I entered my school campus in Afghanistan's Herat. No matter how much effort I put in, I cannot stop thinking about my girl students, thousands of other students, who are missing the opportunity to be educated – all because we are living in constant fear under the Taliban.

At 24, I started teaching students of primary schools. For two years, I witnessed joy in classrooms, of girls bubbling and bantering, getting excited about learning. I spoke to parents who were excited, dreamed of a future beyond marriage for their daughters. I convinced some parents to let their girls pursue higher education. There was hope, there was life.

It took us 20 years to get to where we were. But it feels like we have lost everything overnight.

Everything has vanished into thin air and I, like every other Afghan woman, feel hopeless.

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'Mother Encouraged Me to Be Financially Independent'

I was just a year old when the Taliban left. I have no personal memories. But not a day went by, without someone remembering the horrors of the regime. Women in my family did not step out without a male member, so many cousins of mine lost the opportunity to study. There was no form of entertainment – no music, no dance, no cinema, one could not even step out for a meal.

My mother would constantly tell me how lucky I was to study and how I must make the best of it. She would encourage me that I should become financially independent, and repeat only education would lead me to it. That motivated me even further.

With my parents' encouragement, I became the first graduate in my family. I am also the first woman to step out for work. I was the first person in my family to take a flight, for a training programme in the US.

And just like that, the years of progress now mean nothing.

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'Dreams Of Little Girls Shattered'

I keep seeing in the news that the Taliban is now 'moderate', and they will 'allow' women to function under the Islamic laws. But I don't believe this. It is precisely because of this that I haven't stepped into the school yet, even as some have opened.

For the first time in my life, my family is scared for me to step out. I have assured them that I will see the situation and then take a call.

As I watch the news relentlessly, I wonder what is going to happen to these girls. My little girls who want to become doctors and astronauts, computer engineers and journalists. My heart aches for them.

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I wonder what I will tell them? How will I encourage them to follow their dreams?

Then, I remind myself that the Taliban can take away everything, but they cannot take away education from the already educated.

The biggest difference between 1996 and 2021 is that women are now educated. We can see their courage from some protests in Kabul. Beyond the capital, women are showing acts of bravery – from stepping out to work, to teaching kids within their family.

I will not lose hope. I dream of an Afghanistan where women would be allowed to read freely, take up employment. I dream of an Afghanistan where women do not have to fear going to universities and schools. I dream of an Afghanistan where young women can live freely, and think freely. And there are many, many, many, women who dare to dream like me, for ourselves and for the future.

(As told to Mythreyee Ramesh)

(All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Read and Breaking News at the Quint, browse for more from my-report

Topics:  Afghanistan Crisis 

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