Written by Yal Bano, edited by WRN
I am Yal Bano, one of a group of women activists living in Afghanistan under the direct threat of the Taliban. The Taliban actively search for all who work or talk against them. And it’s easy for the Taliban to kill those groups who work or talk against them. Because of me, my siblings and parents are also under direct threat. We are not safe. But I can’t stop. The Taliban are lying, and they just want to fight for power. I am in hiding, fighting for my life and the lives of other women.
I am in hiding, fighting for my life and the lives of other women.
A return to darker days
The Taliban’s return to power have been dark days for Afghan women and girls.
For the first 3 months of Taliban control in Afghanistan, I was totally disappointed and shocked, as I found myself faced with an unbelievable situation. I saw all my 17 years of study and all my dreams of a bright future for me and others destroyed just in a month.
For the 3 months I mentioned, every day was a fight. Why was I faced with this situation? I hoped for a bright life, but everything ended. Every day, I cried. I had depression and felt hatred towards the male sex, even my brothers. This was because, I told myself, the Taliban are from the male sex. And they are the reason for this horrible page of life for Afghan women. So because of the Taliban I hated all other men. I was filled with negative thoughts, like a person who has no hope or reason to live anymore. And I did not have any interest in studying or reading my books. Sometimes, I asked myself, why should I study? If there is no hope for me, and I am here just like a prisoner inside my home?
Visiting the doctor
I was very weak and sick, because I did not eat much through depression. In 3 months I lost 10kg of weight, and my parents were very worried. They thought I might have cancer as I lost my weight very fast. My parents were very scared and they took me to a doctor. When the doctor checked, they said there was no cancer, but if this continues you may be faced with a very bad situation.
My parents told the doctor about their daughter. They explained how she was the most intelligent among all the boys or girls of our relatives, with an A++ degree from the first grade and through all 12 grades of school. And after school, with a high mark in the university exam she entered university and was the only girl in her class at university. And finally she finished university with a great grade.
And she was full of positive energy, an example to other girls, and she thought about all. She dreamed of seeing every girl of Afghanistan smile, empowered through education, but nowadays she is totally lost and disappointed. She can’t even think about herself.
When the doctor heard my story from my parents, compared with my current situation, they cried and did not say anything for some minutes. The doctor then answered my parents, saying that your daughter is struggling through shock and depression. And we will help to treat her. For 3 months, every day I was under treatment.
And after, when I got better with positive words and methods of motivation, the doctor told me, as an educated member of society you are responsible for helping others around you, and you should give them positive energy, morale and hope for living.
Finally, after 3 months, I got better. And I found hope, that I should be alive, strong and motivated like before, because of my parents, siblings and my country’s women and girls.
And I decided to change myself and fight for my own and others’ rights, no matter where I am, whether in or out of home.
Yes, it’s a fact, I am totally disappointed and broken inside. But outside, I try to be the strongest, just because my country’s women and girls really need a person to encourage them to live and give them hope.
Every day since then, I tried and am trying to bring change home to myself and others as a path to help me and Afghan girls and women.
Rewriting my days
Since that day, I have rewritten my timetable a little differently than in the past.
And some of that is:
As I can’t go school or university and I am always home, I changed the home to a study place. So I try to study more books per my timetable, work on my skills and work on my abilities. And I know education is power and the only way for me to gain my freedom again.
As I can’t go the gym or park or listen to songs, as per my timetable every day I exercise, meditate and listen to peaceful and calm music.
I apply my plan to help girls if they can’t go school or university and also to help families in need, as after the Taliban returned many families lost their jobs, and they need more than in the past.
Then, via the internet I started to search to find ways to help women and to raise my voice for Afghan women. Fortunately, the results of searching were great. And via the internet I met with more heroic and brave women around the world. And they told and showed me: you are not alone in this fight. We are all with you. One of these is WRN Afghanistan: it’s like a path between Afghan women and the world’s women and through this we as Afghan women can raise our voices to the world’s women for action.
It’s been a few days now since the launch of WRN Afghanistan and we’ve been overwhelmed by messages of support and love received from around the world. And fortunately, all the brave women support and encourage us. And I transferred the encouragement and love of all women from around the world to my friends and our group members.
The day of the WRN Afghanistan launch was mother's day in Afghanistan. I spent it with my parents and I made cake for my mother. Via WhatsApp, I called and said ‘happy mother’s day’ to other women, and our group member donated funds to help them as a mother’s day gift.
Thank you to WRN for providing such a path and standing with Afghan women to raise their voices in their own right.
Continuing our work
Every day since the Taliban took control, in such a hopeless situation in which schools are closed to female students, we still continue our work and have done since August 2021.
Volunteer groups of young and educated members of our society, under the name ‘Beautiful Afghanistan’, help female students from inside our homes. From school grades 7–12 we teach them different subjects via online training programs as secret online schooling. Also, as women can’t go to work outside home, there is a very bad impact upon their families’ economic situations. We still try to help and provide food and meet urgent needs for those families who live in a very hard economic situation. And still we have 1,000 families in our records that urgently need food and humanitarian assistance.
What we do for girls and women is friendly humanitarian work. We don’t want to become famous and we don’t want to make profits. We just want to help each other and together make a positive change. Our work is totally private, hidden and friendly inside our homes. We are connecting via the internet so it’s a very safe way for us all to continue our program. In general, I spend every day working on my abilities, helping myself and also other girls to learn, transferring positive energy to them, helping families which urgently need humanitarian assistance.
What we want – a call to action
Ultimately, we all know very well the problems Afghan women face, so there is no need for more explanation. There is a great need for action.
From inside Afghanistan, my plea is that you don’t forget us.
Please stand with Afghan women. Afghan women need action.
Please don’t recognize the Taliban.
Please let Afghan women learn.