My Dream for the Women of Afghanistan
Growing up in Afghanistan, my early childhood was a happy one. I am the youngest in my family with two brothers and two sisters. My mother was principal of a high school for girls and she filled our home with books and instilled in us a passion for learning. In 1996, however, when I was nine years old, the Taliban came into power and education for women ended. Not to be stopped, my mother began secretly teaching my sisters and me at home.
Not knowing English, my mother arranged for us to study with a tutor. One day on my way to this English class, with books hidden under my burqa, Taliban men saw me and followed me to see where I was going. I knew they suspected something, so I wandered around without going to class, eventually returning home. Only then did I realize how dangerous it was for women who wanted an education.
After five terrible years, Taliban rule ended in 2001, and I was able to return to school and graduate from high school. Eventually, I attended an American University in Kabul to improve my English skills. I had to travel 300 miles from my home in Mazar-e-Sharif to do this. It was not easy for me to be so far from my family, but it was my mother’s dream that I complete my studies. When she was killed in a car accident in 2008 I was heartbroken and had to return home for many months.
Fortunately, my father encouraged me and I continued my studies. He reminded me how much my mother wanted this for me. While learning English at the School of Leadership, Afghanistan, I met founder Ted Achilles, who helped me think about the women in my country who might one day look to me as a role model. I was inspired to pursue this as I felt a special calling to help young girls as I had been helped.
I seized an opportunity to continue my studies in the United States. In the fall of 2010, I stepped through the gates at Boston’s Logan Airport and met my American host parents, the Crosbys, along with Dr. Bob McNulty, whose program, Pax Populi, was giving me a chance to attend Salem State University in Massachusetts. There, not only did my knowledge increase, but also I had opportunities to teach Americans about my country and its culture.
After a year of studies, however, I had to abruptly return to Afghanistan to be with my father who was dying of cancer. I was fortunate to spend two months with him, but he made me promise to return to finish my education.
That is exactly what I would like to do now because I have a dream for my country. I want to help educate Afghan people, especially Afghan women and give them confidence to stand up for themselves and make a better life. I want to help create a culture that supports equal rights for women. I also want to help orphan children by providing a home for the street children in my hometown.
I will be happy if I can change one person’s life by showing them the way toward justice and equality through education. In this way I feel I will best be able to fulfill my mother’s dream, not only for her, but for myself, and our country.
Shogofa returned to America in 2012 to resume her studies and is back of track to fulfilling her dream.