One day while I was at school there was fighting in Kabul between the Taliban and the police. I was thirteen years old and in seventh grade. The attack occurred in a big building near school and although I couldn’t see it, I heard the gunfire and explosions close by. All of my classmates at school were crying and asking one another, “What to do now?” We didn’t know what the attack was about, but we knew we might live or we might die.

Soon all of the families came to take their daughters from school. My mother came to get me. It was dangerous for her because the police didn’t allow her to travel by car or bus. I didn’t know she was coming but as we left the school together, I knew that I had to be strong.

All night long we heard the fighting. No one could sleep and all of my family wondered whether we would be alive in the morning. We all huddled in one room. I could hear police cars rush past our house with their sirens but I felt strong with family around me. We all prayed.

We heard on the news the next day that only a few people were killed. I was so grateful when it finally stopped. I was happy to have survived and happy to go back to school. Although the experience made me stronger, I learned how much Afghanistan really needs help and I started to think about how I could help my country. Unfortunately, this was not the first time I heard fighting in the streets. Each day, I believe that there must be something new we can do as a people to stop this kind of violence.

I believe the problem with Afghanistan is lack of education. I want to become a teacher. I want to support women’s rights and become a teacher who trains other teachers. If I can train forty student-teachers in a class, then each of them will go on to teach forty other students per class. I will be able to help my country in this way. It is not just about surviving the Taliban. Everything in Afghanistan makes me braver and stronger. I will live my life, no matter what happens.

By Madia, age 14

Photo by Phil Borges.