“In our society when a girl is underage, she stays under the custody of her father, when she is married, she is under the custody of her husband. It means that a girl is never independent”. Read a story of a young doctor from Afghanistan living in Poland.
The book of our lives
I am Lemar Elyassi, born to an educated and knowledgeable family. In afghan society the education of a girl was a big challenge. However, my father wanted to have self-sufficient daughters. Because in our society when a girl is underage, she stays under the custody of her father. If she is married, then she is under the custody of her husband. When she grows old, she stays under the custody of her son. It means that a girl is never independent and needs others.
Therefore, my parents worked very hard to educate us. Well, after many years they were able to see their efforts: they favoured education over food, clothes and everything else. They spent all their money on our studies. I think that my parents are real heroes because they raised ten children, all competent and well-educated. It was a time when we achieved our dreams and goals. We had a calm and prosperous life.
Suddenly the book of our lives turned black.
My brother was a student at the economic university and he was preparing for graduation. He worked as a National Security official and supported the family. He was killed by the Taliban on 11th January 2021. This event turned the world upside down for us. He widowed his wife and orphaned his five children. Taliban deprived them of fatherly love forever.
How to save yourself?
On the 4th of March 2021, the Taliban put a bomb in a rickshaw for my sister, who was a doctor and she was doing her specialization. She dreamed of becoming a bride and did shopping for her wedding, but the oppressors shredded her wedding dress and buried all her desires. Those events changed us forever. Our eyes and hearts were crying with blood. Fear filled our whole being and the police told us that we are all in danger. So we did not sleep at night. Everyone was nervous about what will happen. How to save ourselves? Eventually, we decided to leave everything behind.
Therefore, me, my brother and my sister’s husband went to my private clinic to get important documents. The Taliban put a bomb on our route for us. Fortunately, the bomb went off before our arrival. We came to Kabul secretly at night, where we spent the next 8 months.
However, we wanted to leave Afghanistan. The government of Afghanistan collapsed, and it was our chance to leave the country. We spent two weeks on the road with small children under the burning sun in summer, without food and with no access to the bathroom. It was raining bullets. Children were crying and screaming, and the elderly were too.
We told them not to be afraid, and we said, this is just a game like a horror movie. It is a game. Taliban assaulted my brother, so my sister put her body on him.
We all got sunburnt.
Finally in Poland
Well, on 23 August 2021 we arrived in Poland, but half of my family: my dad, mom, sister with her newborn and her husband and my brother’s wife with five small children, the oldest one was seven years old and the youngest one was seven months, couldn’t cross the border… Now I live in Warsaw with my sister and my brother.
My elder brother with his wife and three children live together with my elder sister with her five children in Torun. My brother studied law, now he is looking for a job and a Polish language course. So is my sister and brother’s wife.
On the 14 of March, we left the camp and came to Warsaw, but unfortunately, we had to look for another flat after three months. With no income, I had to find food, a job and a flat. The people that at first helped us, then, when we were changing flats, stole all our stuff and left us with only the clothes that we were dressed in.
I am happy that half of my family and I are safe in Poland and I am grateful for kindness and love, but I do not have those things that I used to have: all the achievements of mine and my family, my career… My dad and mom lost ten children at once. Our future is still uncertain. Life has been quite hard for a Muslim and a hijabi in Poland. I have been rejected from several job interviews because of my appearance. In Poland, it is hard to find halal food. But we are not giving up. We are safe. We are learning Polish now. Pray for us so our struggle pays off and I can work as a doctor here.
As Salam Lab, we are part of a unique grant and educational project EMPATHY (Let’s Empower, Participate and Teach Each Other to Hype Empathy. Challenging discourse about Islam and Muslims in Poland), which takes a comprehensive and intersectional approach to counter Islamophobia in Poland. You can read more about it on our website here.
The project has received funding from the European Union. However, the views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Commission. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.
Nilofar Ayoubi – journalist, activist and feminist from Afghanistan.