We have a saying in Dari that “behind every successful girl is her father’s support.” In Afghanistan today, girls in different parts of the country are living very different lives, often a result of whether or not their fathers take an interest in them and support them.
My father once shared this story with me. When he was very young he had lost his father. His mother, my grandmother, was taking care of their eight children. During this time, my father collected pieces of cardboard, cut them, sewed them together, and used them for a notebook.
He shared the story because he cared about me and did not want me to give up on life’s challenges. He did not want sympathy; he was not saying that he had a hard childhood. He wanted me to learn that through hard work I can reach my goals. Through my father’s story I better understood the quote: “Mountains are the beginning and the end of all natural scenery.”
It is easy to share happy memories; it takes courage to share bitter memories and hard, emotional experiences. But sharing stories brings people closer to each other and after my father shared his experiences, I felt closer to my family. I trusted my parents and I knew how much they wanted good things for me. My father had a tough life, but he changed his situation, he colored his life’s path with his hard work and passion.
I promised myself that I would do something with my life. So I left my country in search of a better education and to be a role model for other Afghan girls. I’m sure I could not have written this essay without making that promise and getting an education. I have been working hard and moving forward even when I faced mountains that seemed impossible to climb. I’ve learned that nothing is impossible.
Hope is usually a good thing, especially when it comes from our heart and emotions. Since I learned how to distinguish right from wrong, I have seen my beautiful country in war, but I have always hoped to see my country as a peaceful place and a developed country. It is painful to hear from the media, friends, and strangers around the world that Afghanistan is a third world country.
It is hard when I want to see my parents and I cannot even hear their voices for months. It is painful to hear of parents sending their teenagers abroad illegally or parents burying their young children. Sometimes parents don’t even get a body to bury because their son or daughter was lost on the way to the Europe. Even if the children do make the trip safely, the parents do not know where they will live, what they will eat, or how they will earn a living.
Yet parents are still willing to send their children on a perilous journey. Why? Because we are tired of war, explosions, and attacks. Parents send their children away because they have hope, even when hope seems more dangerous than fear. Parents don’t want their children to grow up hopeless.
Despite all these bitter memories and events, still I am hopeful. When we hope for something it means we care about it. I want my family, friends, and the Afghan people to stay in their country and to live a better life without worrying about death or destruction on a daily basis. The lesson of hope is something I learned from my father and a lesson I hope to pass on.
The writer is a student abroad. U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Sarah R. Webb.