Life is an enormous sea of dignity, experience, and several elaborate turns. How we experience it as humans depends on how we alter the dark side, turning it into a vivid side.

The story of my life begins with the first day of my birth. I was born in a very poor, but very open-minded family. To them, my birth was the key to better luck in their lives. It seemed like the blessing of God had rained in our house. It was an optimistic time.

I was three years old when I started to become familiar with the world around me. The life I found myself living under was one of bombs, rockets, and bullets. Unwanted war brought the darkest moments to our lives, clothed everywhere with blood, danger, fear and was a huge interruption for the continuation of a new generation’s education and several other aspects of their lives.

As days passed, our poverty increased and our security situation worsened. This depressing situation forced us to leave our beloved country and emigrate as refugees to neighboring lands. My parents worked both day and night to feed us, and whatever other precious time they had was consumed in improving our education, as they have always valued education as a major part of our future.

Their support and love always sustains me. With that, I found myself able to attend my primary school in Islamabad, Pakistan, with a lot of great academic achievements but also with uncountable difficulties. I can never forget that hot, sunny day when I returned home from school with my brother. I saw everyone clothed in sadness. My father sat in a corner looking worried. My mom wandered around confused and stressed. My sister was busy teaching English to her students, but my brother and I were so tense. We did not have the courage to ask Dad about his sadness. We went to Mom and asked her what had happened. She first tried not to tell us, but later revealed that my father’s job was taken from him because he is an Afghan. They replaced him with a Pakistani and a relative of the director’s.

We found ourselves hopeless, because we knew it would be really hard to find a new job. My father’s deep tension and worry made him ill and put him in the hospital for several days. Then he began to help my mom teach adults who had been away from education. They would both sit on one side of the room and teach school subjects to adults, while my sister would teach English to different ages on the other side. After six months, my dad was able to get a new job due to his qualifications and skills. But his income was not much. He could not afford to pay all the expenses like our school fees, rent, electricity, gas, and other bills. Therefore, my brother decided to leave school in order to work and support my family.

After ten years of immigration complexities in Islamabad, we returned to our homeland in 2001. I found my homeland’s beauty faded. It had changed to a desolate place. The school where my mom taught and my siblings studied was destroyed. The historical places used for sightseeing were bombed and shattered. I could only see destruction and obliteration.

Despite that, I was able again to enter into the garden of education and pick some flowers. My family praised my talents as I grew day by day and I came to understand that I must help restore my homeland.

I have tried to help my country via volunteer projects and community service in different orphanages, schools and universities, and managing the finances of both medical and educational programs. I am sure I will be able to do even more to help my people and my country once I get my higher education.

By Meena Z.

photo: UN/WFP