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Tahmina celebrates its 4th Anniversary with a blog series called, “In Their Own Words,” featuring stories from the everyday people who are still living under Taliban rule in Afghanistan. Names have been changed or redacted for security, and the views expressed in these pieces are the author's own and do not reflect the views of Tahmina Tea.   

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Hello from Afghanistan,

As a child I grew up in a village and my family were farmers. I was a shepherd boy and cared for the goats and sheep from morning till afternoon. My life was simple but I loved it. I learned at a young age to care for my family. In the village I never saw a computer, telephone or knew of electricity. The only two countries I heard of outside of Afghanistan were Iran and Pakistan. Then, when I was 10 years old I lost my mother and my life changed. 

My family moved to the city where life was different. Besides doing school and helping my father as a shopkeeper, I also started learning tailoring. I learned tailoring in three years and then started earning income with my tailor teacher until I finished my school (12th grade). I took the university entrance exam and got accepted to university. I entered the computer science faculty and I finished university in 2008 amidst many trials. I earned a job in Kabul with software development and I was proud to be a part of economic change in Afghanistan.

Later on I met my wife who received a bachelor's degree in journalism. She was very active in her field and enjoyed sharing stories of our country. My marriage is an arranged marriage. My sister selected her for me, and comparing my family and their family I never thought she could become my life partner. My wife’s family is from the city, and her father is an educated person and he worked in different high positions of government. It is very amazing for me that my family is poor and uneducated but my wife’s family is educated but we still got married. It is God’s help that tied my relationship with her. We are happily married with two beautiful children. I received a good education, married a wonderful wife and we have a happy family. 

Then on August 15th, 2021 the Taliban entered Kabul. Everything felt like it changed in an instant. We felt fear, sadness, and chaos. When I first saw Taliban fighters in Kabul it felt like my heart stopped. I didn’t know what to do. The ideology of the Taliban has not changed from twenty years ago. They do not want girls to receive education, women cannot leave their homes without a man, you are not allowed to listen to music, you must go to the mosque five times a day for prayer, give food to the fighters, and men are not allowed to shave their beards.

Currently the price of food is rising more than two times: before the Taliban, 5 kg of oil was 400 AFN, but now it is 900 AFN and it is still rising. Many people came to my house and they cried a lot for food, but unfortunately right now we cannot help people because if I help people they will think I am a rich man, which means they might kidnap me or my family. Also, maybe that will bring attention to the Taliban; right now the number of kidnappings is going up.

People who worked with foreigners are feeling at risk, because we heard from Taliban interviews that they told people who helped foreigners all of them should be killed because they think those people are spies of foreigners, because in 20 years of war the Taliban lost their families and houses because of airplane bombers. Right now these people who are members of Taliban fighters are trying to get revenge from the army and people who help foreigners. It is true that Taliban leaders announced amnesty, but the fighters are still doing what they want. Right now people who worked with foreigners are living in hiding: they cannot meet their relatives and they cannot go to their provinces. Really, the exit of U.S troops from Afghanistan has put millions of people at risk.

Living under the Taliban regime feels like someone is watching you with a gun. Forcing you to be quiet. There is no freedom. Now, the Taliban wants to be recognized as an official government, but the people in the cities and villages feel like they took the country by force. 

I dream of a free Afghanistan for my wife, my children, and their future families. We wish from God to have freedom of life and the earth to have happy days in the remainder of our life.

-Abdul
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