I have three children, two daughters and a son. I was born in Jalalabad, but grew up in Kabul and have been here since. I graduated from Kabul University in English language in 1982. I was a teacher in a high school in Kabul and helping foreigners learn Dari and Pashtu in the IOM (International Organization of Migration) office for a long time. I was there until 1991 and then I went to Peshawar, Pakistan because of the bad conditions in Afghanistan. During my eleven years in Pakistan I had a primary school there. My husband was taking care of the school and I was teaching and also teaching English to my friends.
Then my husband died last year. Unfortunately, now I’m a widow and I have to care for my kids and get on with life. Now my oldest daughter, Hela Sebah, is 14. My second daughter, Lemazala, she’s 12 and my son is eight. I don’t have a school at the moment. But I want to open a primary school for girls.
What has helped you through your difficult times?
I haven’t lost my hope in life. The second thing is my strength. In the face of problems I like to fight with the problems. I think my strength was the effect of the training of my father. And all the time he encouraged us to fight with the difficulties. And the thing that helped me in Peshawar was my education. My father was a very kind man. He gave me a chance to have a higher education. I’m the oldest child and all the time my father gave me the first chance and I feel equal with my brothers.
What are qualities that help people get through tough times?
The only things that a person would have with them in the hard times of life are their strength and their power and their decision. How do they decide? What do they want? Whenever they have a special aim, they can get their aim very easily. Have a particular goal and then you can know how to go after it.
What advice do you have for your daughters?
I advise my daughters to be strong Afghan ladies. I want them to be strict in their lives. The only thing that will make them strong and powerful is their knowledge. Whenever they have knowledge they can solve their difficulties in a good way and they can face everything logically and they will be able to be a good citizen for their people and country.
Profile and pictures provided to us by and copyrighted to Peggy Kelsey, of Kelsey Photography from her book “Gathering Strength: Conversations with Afghan Women”