Like many young women in Afghanistan, Farzana has gone to great lengths to get an education and is now benefitting from a scholarship funded by the Linda Norgrove Foundation at Gawharshad Institute of Higher Learning in Kabul. She is one of six children whose father works as a school watchman. Here, she describes the difficult route she has had to take throughout her life to continue her studies.
Afghanistan has been the battle ground for many wars and since 1970s until 2001, it faced so much economic and political crises. The three decades of war not only had negative impact on the economic and political situation of Afghanistan but also on the social and educational life of most of its people.
The main victims of civil war were and are girls and women. They have suffered the most. My family and I were also among those people who have been the victim of these different kind of crisis in the country.
In 2001, when US decided to invade Afghanistan my family moved to Pakistan because the security situation was really bad. I was happy that we were moving to Pakistan because there I could study and achieve my dreams.
Taliban had banned all girls’ school and they preserved women and girls as their slaves. According to Taliban, women and girls are only for men’s sexual needs and also to cook for them and raise their kids.
After living awhile in Pakistan the security situation there became very bad and my family decided to move back to Afghanistan which I really didn’t want at that time because Afghanistan had just come out of civil war and we didn’t have an established government to support women’s education in the country.
I convinced my family that I do not want to go back to Afghanistan because at that time we lacked schools for girls. I remember that day very clearly when my family was packing our clothes to move to Afghanistan and I had my school dress on and my school books in my hand and was crying all day.
My parents agreed I could stay with my mother’s relative in Pakistan to continue with my school.
[In Afghanistan, Farzana’s father came under a lot of pressure from his relatives to bring her back from Pakistan.]
My father tried his best to stand against them but he could not do because one man cannot do anything against the whole community and your own relatives and family. Therefore, my father came to Pakistan and took me back to Afghanistan.
When I came back to Afghanistan, though my high school grade was very good, it was hard for me to get admission in public university and my parents did not have that much money to get admission for me in the private university.
I found out that Gawharshad University offered the highest financial aid to a student which was up to 70%. My father agreed that he will arrange the remaining 30% – we had four sheep in our home and my father had to sell them to cover it.
After studying for a semester the financial aid was reduced to 10%. It was really bad news for me and I could not share it with my father because if I told him about it then he would be very sad. I decided to stay in Kabul and tried to find other ways to support my education. I got some money from my friends in order to cover my expenses in Kabul while I was looking for other opportunities but I could not find one until I heard about the Linda Norgrove Foundation.
I cannot explain how grateful I am to the Foundation for providing financial assistance to support my education. If I did not have this help then I would not be able to continue my education or achieve my dreams.
Without their support, by now I might have got married to someone and raised his kids and vanished my entire dreams but thank God that it did not happen because my goals and dreams are different than being a slave of someone. I want to be an independent woman so one day I can help other women to fight for their rights and get as much education as much as possible.