My Journey from Kabul Airport to Washington DC

Nasiba Hakimi is an activist and a change maker.

Author: Nasiba Hakimi

I am Nasiba Hakimi from Ghazni of Afghanistan and I am a student at Asian University for Women (AUW) in Bangladesh. I do not know when I am writing my story I should be happy or sad for my beloved country and myself. It is not easy to express how you feel inside and tell them to others. Global know about the current situation of Afghanistan.

Afghan people are strong and I believe that they were raised very strong and such kind of authority will not keep them back. Afghanistan faced many challenges in its history. If you read the civilization that Afghanistan had a strong background from a very long time ago till now.

I am not sharing the face of Afghanistan in 2001; I am saying today real face of Afghanistan.  As an active girl I have borne and rise in Afghanistan I faced many challenges and problems, but I did overcome and I did not give up. I always try my best to keep my motivation and good works keep up. In my period of life, I have challenged myself toward hard times and bad times. I have studied at my elementary school in Ghazni, where I went to school where boys and girls were together. But we did not have enough materials for studies. I do remember that at the beginning of the year we have to wait for days and weeks to receive our books. Some time we could but some other time we could not and we have to share our books. While I was at my school I remember that young girls and boys who studied their university in the cities came to our school during the summer and teach us to volunteer.

From that time I was hoping that if I could be able to go to Kabul and continue my studies and lived there with my family. Because they said about the development and achievement of the cities that we did not have in our valley. I am a thanks full to my Almaty Allah that my many dreams came true. We moved to Kabul and I graduated from Koshan High School located in Kabul.  I believe that as much challenge we face we get stronger and try to be better at ourselves.

I read a post on social media that one of the U.S. militaries wrote about Afghan children. He mentioned that I did not know how life is hard till I traveled to Afghanistan and had my job in Bamyan of Afghanistan. Bamyan is well known for its Bamyan Statue. He said that one day I saw a group of students who were on their way to school and some used pieces of paper were on the road and they went and collect them. He said that I worried maybe there is something important on the paper that they took them. While I went near them and check with them there was nothing just one side of white paper.

The students said that we collect these papers and make a notebook that we can write something on that. He said that I was shocked how backward are these people and how they are starving for education. Also, students requested me if I have a pen with me and give them. At that moment I understand how lucky we are that we were born in America and we have many facilities and luxurious life. I believe if we pay more effort into something we will gain more and better results. By the time I graduated from school, I increase my social activates and have been participated in and organized many programs like MUNs, debates, conferences, short and long time workshops. From 2017 till 2018 I have studied the field of Agriculture at Kabul University for a year and then got a full scholarship in (AUW) I always dreamed to continue my studies outside of Afghanistan and experience new life with a new community. I have been studied there almost for three years and while I come back to Afghanistan in July 2020 because of the COVID-19 virus. I have continued my studies online till July 2021.

Besides that, I participated in many programs and now I am working as a country representative in Women Ascension who helps women to help each other and educate women. And I have shared my ideas and speeches with others and heard from them. Moreover, I worked with Agha Khan Cultural Services in Afghanistan as Procurement Assistant almost for a year and I did an internship at Institute Well Being Bangladesh for almost two months.  I was very hopeful about my future and the people of Afghanistan. Because in past 20 years, people made a lot of achievement and improvement for themselves. But unfortunately, the Taliban came and destroys our people’s hope.

Afghan people are much strong than it. I believe that it may not take a long time for the Taliban to take control all over the country. Because they do not know how to moderate and control a nation. They will soon get back and let the people have their own choice. I never thought that one day I might escape and go somewhere very far from Afghanistan because of the Taliban to save my life. People of Afghanistan call 15 August as black day of Afghanistan. The day Taliban took the capital of Afghanistan and many people displaced from that day till now. On that day I went to my work as usual, but the feeling that I had was different from early morning.

My manager said that you should go back home but I said I am fine and I am doing my work and some minutes later my other co-worker came and we were talking about how we can escape if they come while we stay in our office. She just left the office and maybe after 30 minutes security supervises knocked on the door and said to me to leave the site office and go to the main office to be safe there. That time I was afraid a lot and I got panic what to do. I put all the documents and computers in a bag and my manager took them with him. People were crowded on the road and we left the car and walk from Sinama-e-Pamir to Sarak Guzarga. It was almost 12:30 P.M. we reached there and lunch was ready some had lunch, some others left toward their home and I just took my lunch and could not eat.

I had a lot of stress and got panic. That time while after an hour I reached my home safely I have cried a lot for my future for my people and my country. 
The worst part of my life starts when I just stay at home and did not do my normal work. Even I think about Afghan women’s future a lot and some nights I dreamed that the Taliban are hitting women and they want women to do what they want from them. It was like a nightmare for me till I left Afghanistan on 27th August. I think that instead of Afghan people no one passed that hard time to get independent and have a peaceful country. It is not easy that I am writing what happened to me and women of my country and from the begin, till now I cant not accept what Taliban say for my people. While the Taliban came on the power and all women, girls and students stayed in their homes.

I tried to read books and make my days busy but it was not easy and I was panic as I talk with some of my friends and they try to motivate me. Taliban is like another wild animal that did not know anything about humanity and human right. After 15 August only one day, I went outside to my workplace alone and on the way, I saw a group of Taliban who was on the way to pass the road, and I was afraid of them how dangerous they were. That time it gave me the feeling that I am strong and should not be afraid of them. 
However, my journey started on 25th August to leave Afghanistan.

I was on the way to the airport with a group of students to leave Afghanistan toward Bangladesh with arranged Charter flight, but it was canceled because of insecurity inside the airport. But all the time I did not give up. Tomorrow of that day again 148 students with some other girls we went to the airport to enter inside but we spend two nights and days in front of the gate and we could not get in because U.S. military and Taliban both were saying that they did not have our list to let us inside. We tried many times and said them to let us inside and showed them our documents but they did not accept that.

The first time through the Taliban gate they hit on our cars and fired toward where people are not there, but the second time our group leader tried to talk to them it was almost 12: 00 Am midnight, and the Taliban even did not let her start talking and fired toward their car. And there was no hope to get in and unfortunately; we all came back to our home on 27th August. However, on the evening 27th again our universities inform us to go to the airport and this time no one believes that we could go in. A small group of students did not come in the third round and their families said that it is not the way to go inside and staying in front of the airport will not get the chance to enter inside. But we went and spend another night outside the airport and this time Taliban had our list and we were passed two checkpoints of the Taliban and enter the airport on the 28th morning. The scary part was as we students enter the airport there were three men with closed eyes and closed hands sited on the point that the Taliban read our names and let us go forward.

All students were afraid of their policy and what they do. For 30 minutes we were under the control Taliban and after that U.S. military called us one by one and check us. While all students passed the checking and we went to the final point where buses took us near the airplane and all students feel happy and secure. I was saying that how I should feel happy or sad I did not know my feeling and my condition. While we enter the airport no one knows where we go, maybe in Bangladesh or some other county. We students with other passengers get inside U.S. military plane and they close the door and did not say for us where we go and maybe around 500 hundred passengers were inside the plane. Inside the plane, there was a very loud and bad sound because it was the first time that I faced that situation. When the plan land and said now we are in Sudia Arab and every one of us was surprised that we made to get out of Afghanistan somewhere far that the Taliban can not hurt us.

The sad part is that most of the students did not carry even one pair of clothes because some students said that do not take anything except your documents because the Taliban did not let us to bring anything with ourselves and we did not take clothes. After spending one day and night in Sudia Arabia we went to Spain for two days and nights and there they provide us food, some clothes, and other basic needs. People of Spian is great for hosting I was feel like my own home. They are very kind and I get more interested in their people. From Spain we traveled to Washington D.C. but, we traveled all away from Kabul to Washington D.C. by military plane. While we come to the U.S. and from Washington D.C. to Wisconsin in Fort McCoy military camp. We faced different environments and challenges. But I am thankful to everyone who works for refugees who help them to get out of camp and other people who provide food, shelters, and warm clothes. Now it is 22 days that our group of students are here in the camp and did some process of our work and still waiting for other steps to be done.

I am not complaining about anything in this camp because my dream is big I do not care if I cannot get one or two-time meals or I stand for 2 or 3 hours on the line to get food. I become very strong and these things cannot hurt me anymore. While we come from Kabul to Sudia Arab for 3:30 hours we just set in a very crowded place and even it was hard to move or go to the bathroom. That was a more tough time that we passed. I am very hopeful about my future and I know that I can bring positive changes to my family and my community. However, I have left my family, friends, and everything behind in Afghanistan. I do not know what will happen to them. And I am very excited about starting my new life here in the USA and I never planned to visit the USA very soon. But hard time forces me to do that. I had a good plan for women of Afghanistan after I graduated from AUW and now my plan change because there is no way till the Taliban is in Afghanistan that I go back and help my people. But I promise to do my best and educate my self start university here and work for my people and who are in danger in any place they live.  I believe that the current situation of Afghanistan can not be finished in one or two books. As much we explain it is not enough. Today I am stronger than yesterday and tomorrow I will be too.