Editor’s note: This piece was written in the AWWP Teenage Writers Workshop. Look for more writing by young writers aged 12-15 next week.

Last winter, my family traveled to Kandahar to visit our relatives, as we do every year. I really enjoy these winter visits. One day last year, I went to my aunt’s house to fly kites and play hide-and-seek with my cousins. They keep cows, goats, sheep, and a horse, and I visited with the animals too.

Another day, I rode the horse. It was a very good day, just playing with my cousins while my mom visited my aunt. Later, my mom wanted to see where I had been. I took her to the animals and one of the cows was giving birth to a calf. That was something! When a calf is born, people cook good food.

Still another day, I went to a wedding party for friends of my cousins. When it was time to leave, however, I couldn’t find all of my cousins. They had returned to my aunt’s house one way, and I went another way. I was wearing a blue and white punjabi dress. I soon saw three men wearing black clothes and turbans like the Taliban.

“Do you have a little sister?” one man asked.

“Yes, I do,” I replied.

He said, “Go! Hurry up and bring her to me! I am helping to vaccinate the children!”

I was afraid. Only my youngest cousin was with me. I took his hand and told the man that we would bring my sister. When we got to the house, my aunt said that I should take my sister for the vaccinations. I asked myself, “How do we know that this is the man’s real job?” But I said only, “Let’s see what will happen.”

An older cousin took my sister outside, but thank God, the men weren’t there! When another cousin came home for lunch, I told him the story. He said, “Shahira! You shouldn’t go out in the afternoon! There are people who want to kidnap children. You must not go out to play in the afternoon.”


Then I remembered how, one day in the middle of Kandahar when I was little, my Grandpa gave me money to go and buy something to eat. I couldn’t find my way and got lost in Kandahar. While I was lost, a girl asked me, “Where are you going?”

I said, “I’m going to shop.”

“Oh, there’s a shop near our house,” she said. “Come on, come!”

So I went with her, and I bought food that was very yummy. When my family found me, everyone laughed because I was lost but I was thinking only about food and not about getting home. I was so small then.

And now my cousin had said that I shouldn’t go outside to play. I told my story about getting lost to everyone. It was a happy, sad, funny,and joyful winter for me in Kandahar.

By Shahira, age 12