When Laila Hazara left Afghanistan after the Taliban came to power in 2021, she had just contracted COVID-19 and had to fly without the oxygen tank she needed. Her daughter documents the life she left behind, and the one she has made with her family in Virginia.
Others from the small community gathered around me, each with a story to relate about the life they left behind in Afghanistan, and their fond recollections despite the challenges they faced as members of a religious minority. Indeed, the agony of leaving their home and all that they had grown to love seemed fresh in their mind. Many of them, even those in their late 70s and early 80s, told me that the synagogue provided them with the solace and sense of belonging that they left behind in Afghanistan.
Despite the Taliban's ban on music, Afghans are learning to sing and play instruments in secret sessions.
Afghanistan, despite becoming more urban and educated, with a growing middle class and many of the trappings of a modern state, remains an important yet inherently unstable geostrategic chessboard, where Afghan leaders and their international backers play their bloody games at the expense of unfortunate Afghans.
Afghans raised children, went to work and gave birth for two decades next to America's vast military bases and burn pits, and their prolonged exposure to the air, soil and water pollution continues to this day. Dealing with the consequences of the war’s contamination will take generations.
In 2009, I was 13 years old and I had taken fashion into my own hands. I loved designing new clothes, imagining how I could stand out from the crowd. It became an obsession, the only thing on my mind. Then the Taliban came, again and again.
Unless things change in Afghanistan, future generations will grow up in a country where resources are scarcer and prospects slimmer. Without modern education nationwide to promise social mobility, many Afghan children find themselves left with the misfortune of having to risk life and limb at the border.