An Afghan girl’s despair over school ban: ‘We are wilting away at home’

·3 min read

Last year I was in 11th grade, the second highest-placed student in my class, with an average grade of 95%. Now I sit at home all day doing almost nothing. Sometimes I help my mum with housework, but really there are no distractions for me.

I can’t even read books, because I have lost the will to continue. After you lose 11 years of effort all at once, you can’t hold on to your dreams to make something of your life.

My favourite subjects were history and geography. I wanted to become a heart surgeon, and I really worked hard, but now our dreams have been killed by the Taliban. It’s easy to just say “11 years”, but it’s actually a very long time, and lots of hard work.

I have one sister who should be in seventh grade now, and one a year below me. We are all depressed, we are wilting away at home. I just think about my dark future, these wasted efforts, and I sleep all day. When my parents find me sleeping somewhere, they become upset.

They tell me it’s a general situation with all girls, no one is going to overtake you, if the schools reopen you will all go back and start from the same place. But unfortunately I don’t have any hope that will happen. While there are still Taliban, this situation will continue.

I haven’t heard of any secret schools operating here. Even if there were, we couldn’t afford to pay school fees because my parents are unemployed, and the girls attending will never be allowed to get a graduation certificate (which Afghans need to apply for university).

We are six sisters, and my parents were really committed to our education. My father would always get angry if we missed even one day of school. He would say: look at me, I couldn’t get educated and see what my life is like today. You must study, so you can do something good in future.

I haven’t met up with any of my school friends for a year. I don’t have a phone to talk to them. Some of them live quite far away, they used to walk to my house and then we would go to school together. Now I am afraid to go outside.

We are scared of the Taliban because of the forced hijab they imposed on us. [The Taliban officially require women to wear a burqa or a long, black abaya gown, and to cover their faces; although implementation has been mixed, many women report being threatened or beaten, or seeing other women attacked, for not meeting regulations.] We don’t have this kind of hijab at home, we can’t afford to buy one, and anyway I can’t bear to wear that kind of hijab, I don’t want to cover my eyes.

We don’t have phone or internet at home, so online classes would be out of my reach. I don’t see any future for Afghan girls, none of my sisters are trying, no one has any motivation.

My message to the world is: please do something. In return for a small effort you can bring a huge light for the girls in Afghanistan. Everything is dark now, you can bring that light. Do something, get moving, please don’t forget us.

*Name changed for security reasons