Precious, more precious than anything
on earth, my country, a people with only beauty
in their hearts, the people—the best you’ll find in your life,
each one bright, each one rare as a beautiful flower.

But, now the Taliban has turned much to ash,
most of my country is turned to ash, and beautiful flowers
are surrounded by the worst
people you’ll meet in life… my country

became a country red with blood, a country
where men can’t find a good job,
where a father works from morning ’til night to
find his family one piece of bread, a country

where youth are lost and cannot find
their dreams, where women go
unvalued, and the door to their dreams
is shut, where woman’s only value is to keep children

and feed them. My country, where a girl isn’t allowed
to open a book or hold a pen, my country
where every day you hear the Taliban have attacked, again,
and every child is thirsty and hungry for peace.

But, God created every creature to be free, and now, the people
are standing up, and once again, are fighting for rights, 
hoping to bring sun where there is none, to bring
light to all that is dark, all that is black night:

Every child’s dream brighter than evening stars,
every woman, man, girl, and boy— following their dreams,
living, peacefully living, where women
are free to be, to live their dreams and every person can
be great, can lead. My country—whose people are,
once again, standing up.

By Shahira, age 14

The writer lives abroad. Photo: Fraidoon Poya / UNAMA