In the last twenty years, war, poverty, and unemployment have been the main causes of migration, but some cope with all this and do not like to be displaced because of building a new life, accepting new values and culture, and starting from scratch requires stronger power.
“We built our lives in Afghanistan with all the challenges, the hardships, and half of our lives were spent in it, and now that insecurity and unsustainable policies have caused us to lose everything and be brought to another country; It is difficult to rebuild and run to provide a better life; Because we do not have the strength and enthusiasm of 20 years ago.” Shahrbano Heydari, a woman who immigrated to Italy with the fall of Afghanistan and the rise of Taliban fighters, told Nimrakh.
Shahrbano studied computer science at Kabul University of Education and earned her master’s degree in the same field from Keith University in India. She has taught for 5 years in Bamyan province and private universities in Kabul. In Bamyan, Ms. Heydari co-founded the Women’s Social Council with several other women activists who implemented literacy, vocational, first aid training, capacity building, and women’s awareness of basic rights and citizenship. She has also been a deputy director in a research institution.
She had experienced immigration difficulties while pursuing her master’s degree in India and therefore never considered living outside Afghanistan; But the fall of Kabul made this unfulfilled dream come true and made her a refugee in Rome, Italy.
“On that damn day in the office of Avicenna University, we were sitting with some professors and talking about The fall of Bamyan, my hometown and the city of my dreams We were discussing when suddenly my phone rang and one of my professors was behind the phone who said without preamble: Get home as soon as possible, as Kabul is also falling. I came out of college sad. Cars were rarely seen on the streets and passed me quickly. I walked to Pul-e-Sorkh and from there I got in the car and went to my room.
The house where I lived with a few other women was next door to Mr. Mohaqiq’s house, and one of my roommates was in a head office and worked in a high-ranking political position, which made us even more concerned. We were all trying to get out of the room so that the Taliban would start house to house searching. We burnt all our documents except our educational documents.”Shahrbano told Nimrokh from the day that elements of her twenty-year effort collapsed and threw her miles away from her family and friends.
“I left the room in fear and went to my cousin’s house in the Barchi district. My cousin also thought about leaving Afghanistan. I will never forget those days. All the doors were closed on me, and my cousin left Afghanistan a few days after the arrival of the Taliban and handed over her house to her owner. I was left alone! I did not dare to go to Bamyan; Because Bamyan was not safe for me. I had talked about the Taliban many times in discourse and press conferences, and I had debates with the religious scholars of Bamyan. I was afraid if mean Mullahs report me to the Taliban they would conduct desert court on me.
Inevitably, I went to my aunt’s house and spent all my time emailing and sending documents to every email address that was shared on the social networks, which unfortunately received no response and I was overwhelmed with frustration. One night I called my friend who lives in a European country.
I talked to her about the conditions of the people and myself and asked for help. She asked for all my details and told me to wait for the news. A few days later, at sharp 6 p.m., a friend who had taken my details sent me a message to get to Kabul Airport as soon as possible. On the one hand, my fear of being alone on the road, and on the other hand, the sadness of my family, made me so upset that I forgot to ask which country I would go to; I just mentioned taking my family, to which he said no and said, “If you want to get out, go to the airport, and it is not possible for your family.”
Anxiety caused me not to read the address correctly and I wandered around the airport for 2 a.m., and after walking ups and downs, I finally found the address and reached the airport gate at 8 in the morning. At the gates of the airport where they addressed me, an Italian security group was stationed, accompanied by an Afghan translator of Tajik descent, and several others received e-mails like me. I also had the University of Sapienza acceptance in Italy plus email and given details with me, But unfortunately, the translator only helped the Tajik people and let them into the airport.
There was also a Hazara woman with her four children who came in with her three children but the American troop didn’t let her son in. I argued with an American soldier but he suddenly slapped me. “I immediately cried for myself and my people, and I felt a strong hatred for the Taliban because I could not do anything.”
Shahrbano finally rode on an airplane and flew to an unknown future after 48 hours. She and her companions are taken to Kuwait and from there to Italy. They are kept for eight days and nights in a camp near the city of Rome, two hours apart. In the camp, they also face health problems and are relocated to tents set up next to each other. Shahrbano faces severe stress; The thought that her old father whom she was his only breadwinner, and on the other hand did not have access to SIM card and internet, to know how he would live without her, and that the palace of her dreams had been collapsed, all together ruined Shahrbano’s dreams which would make her spend hours without sleeping.
After eight days, they are transferred from the camp to the southern Italian city of Montalba no. Italy is a difficult place to live, it has a complex and difficult language that will take at least a year to learn, and for a single woman like Shahrbano who is educated and has a master’s degree in computer science, and had good social status in Afghanistan and earned a good living and it is really difficult to adjust with different values and cultures and customs, But the situation in Afghanistan is no longer a place for women to live. Educated women who, by breaking the taboos of society, had created a special place for themselves in society and were lawyers, professors, and journalists.
However, one of the most basic theoretical foundations for helping asylum seekers and refugees is respect for human rights and their human rights equality, and immigrant-friendly countries strive to preserve the human dignity and religious and intellectual values of migrants and to improve their living conditions as well as outlining beliefs in peace, development, equality, poverty eradication, social justice, and hope for the future; But re-establishing a new identity and confronting a new ideology is not an easy task for migrants and it will take years of re-building.
Ms. Heydari tells Nimrokh about the evacuation process by foreign countries: “The evacuation process is not loyal and the employees of foreign institutions; They even drove their most distant relatives out of Afghanistan, and vulnerable people (journalists, civil society activists, women rights activists, artists, and women police officers) remained in Afghanistan, and those who fled Afghanistan under the mentioned title were out by translators. Shahrbano called her trip to Italy a chance, and if one day the situation in Afghanistan returns to the same situation 5 months ago; She will return to her homeland again and try again for the prosperity of her country.
Shahrbano considers her future affected by her past and says;
“If I stay in Italy, I will do my best to stand up again and fight for the aspirations and goals I had for the women of my hometown (Bamyan), and defeat is never acceptable to me, and the women of my country who remain in Afghanistan. I demand that they do not accept oppression and continue their struggle firmly; If I do not see a future for women compatriots with the Taliban, and every day under different excuses, more restrictions will be imposed on them, which during the peace talks I believed that the Taliban hadn’t changed and the role of women in society will end. Unfortunately, we are witnessing it now, and one day if the Taliban are defeated and leave; “This will be the result of the struggles of the women of my country.”
Translated by: Jahan Raha