Heila Shokoor is a student at American High School and a member of the Afghan community.
What is happening in Afghanistan is a result of four decades of turmoil. As an Afghan American and a child of war refugees, what is happening to Afghanistan saddens me deeply. My parents left Afghanistan for the safety of their family back in the ’80s and ’90s with hopes of returning to a safer and stabilized Afghanistan, how it was in its glory.
Now it is 2021, the Taliban are back taking away the basic human rights of Afghans. People are flocking to the airport in fear for their lives and their children, just waiting for a chance to get on an airplane with the clothes that they have on their backs, saying goodbye to their rich and cultured country not knowing if they might return like my parents and grandparents did. I grieve for what is happening in Afghanistan. What my generation and the generation before us remembers Afghanistan by is the ongoing war, the children on the streets working by day and going to school by night from the age of five to support their family along with the widowed wives wondering how to feed their children that day. This adds to every Afghan’s mind the feeling of survivor’s guilt. My sisters and I have never been able to go to Afghanistan and see our roots because of the current conditions but it feels guilty to know that Afghan children our age do not have the same opportunities that we have been blessed with and are thankful for every day because we were born in America.
But Afghanistan wasn’t always like this. Before the war, before the invasion of the Soviet Union in the ’70s, Afghanistan was a well-known and respected country around the world with a royal family, highly educated middle class, and a flourishing economy and culture. When looking into Afghanistan’s history, it is a land that many tried to conquer (and still do) to obtain the rich elements and minerals that the land holds secret and for the geographical location. In fact, Alexander the Great said that it is impossible to conquer the Afghans and held the people of the country in high esteem. In understanding the rich history and culture of Afghanistan, one can see how it pains me to see this country collapse over and over again over the last few decades and their triumph of victories becoming a forgotten ghost. With the Afghanistan soccer team being taken in by Australia, the all-girl Afghanistan robotics team leaving for Qatar, the future of the country is gone. It saddens me to see the place that my heart calls home but yet has never been, to have the future gone and once again starting from scratch. I wish there was something I could do to make an impact and a better future for Afghanistan, restore its glorious past. But for now, I welcome the new Afghans coming into the Bay Area and hope they will have a safer life here.
As an Afghan American girl, I am concerned for Afghan women, who have no freedom or right to speak for themselves, and whose education is now in peril. I am saddened by the news of how women in Afghanistan are treated, and so was my Grandma when I spoke with her.
Hassina Shokoor, my 80-year-old grandmother, was disappointed with what happened in Afghanistan. She wanted Afghans to stand up for their rights and prevent this from happening. When I told my grandmother about the situation, she sobbed because Afghanistan was her home. My grandmother was disappointed that she couldn’t return to her home after leaving it 40 years ago. My grandmother was worried about the women because they can’t speak up for themselves anymore and need a man by their side wherever they go. She regrets not going back to Afghanistan ever since she left. She can only hope that Afghanistan will be in better shape.
As a child of refugees and an Afghan young woman, I really hope the Taliban change their ways, but, if they do not, Afghan citizens will face great difficulties.
Written September 1st, 2021.