Editor’s note: The author wrote this poem on behalf of a girl who is eager to be and have a role in the future of her country. But instead of going to school she must beg for bread so her mother, two sisters, and younger brother can eat.

We Afghans, we are a zealous people, 
stronger than a stone but delicate, 
the most self-contained, but hot blooded, 
the most kind, but vengeful, 
the most peace loving, but warriors.

Here, this Afghan girl, she is a grown girl,
she burns to learn, to lead.   
She dreams of being president
as she works each day to feed her brothers
and pay their school fees. 

She looks out at you, abroad, in your newspapers,
from your websites, and she knows you are looking
and she wants to say to you 

You see my face framed with my rough blue scarf,
streaked with mud from the fields,
but you can’t see my zealous, warrior’s heart,
How much it is hurt! 

You see my glancing eyes,
but you can’t see my tears
How much they rain! 

You see my laugh,
but you can’t see my pains
How much I have suffered!

You see my words, 
but you cannot read my thoughts  
How much power they have! 

You see my steps, 
but you cannot feel my intention
How it is solid and strong like our mountains. 

You see my poverty, 
but you cannot imagine my zeal
How it gives me strength! 

You see my hard life,
but you cannot feel my confidence,
you do not know how deeply
it dwells and feeds me.

By Rabia A.

Photo by Mikhail Evstafiev