My family and I stayed inside Afghanistan during the war. We lived in Ghazni province, and during the Taliban we just stayed in the house and had no freedom. Seven years ago, I came to Kabul from Ghazni and started school in the seventh class. Before that, I had studied at home.
In Ghazni province, women don’t have the right to work or study. But we are the new generation and we are trying our best to take our rights back and get our freedom and work for Afghanistan. We want to provide all those necessities for the women of Afghanistan that they don’t have now.
In what ways are you doing that now?
The first way to help Afghanistan is by getting my own education. The second is fund-raising programs. I support some organizations that help women. For example, there is a Turkish woman who came and gave some money for those women who are discouraged.
This year, I finished school and took the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exam so I can study in a foreign university. My score wasn’t high enough but I’m planning to study some courses and take the test again. I’m really interested in studying law. My main hope is to finish my law education and to continue working for women’s freedom and to talk about women’s rights in the provinces.
How does Taekwondo fit into your life?
TKD teaches us about the strength of women and it forces us to work out physically. It helps keep my mind open and keeps me healthy. That’s why I came here. The second reason is that I found out that my teacher is good and he is always telling us about the bravery of women. That’s why I joined this club. Also I want to carry Afghanistan’s flag in the other countries. (In international competitions)
When you were growing up in Ghazni, were you able to find a way to exercise at all?
During the Taliban we were stuck in the house and there was no one to teach us or train us. So there were no classes. Women couldn’t exercise in their houses because sometimes the Taliban could see into their yards.
I know those times were very difficult, but did you learn something from that experience?
The only thing I learned from it was the importance of women’s education and women’s freedom.
So it gave you a burning desire to study?
So are any members of your family who are against your studying Taekwondo?
My friend and my brother don’t like me to come, and sometimes I face some difficulties with them. But I have the encouragement of my mother and father so I don’t pay attention.
Profile and pictures provided to us by and copyrighted to Peggy Kelsey of Kelsey Photography taken from her book “Gathering Strength: Conversations with Afghan Women”