Note: to mark the one year anniversary of the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, the stories of eight Afghan women produced in different countries, will be published in Farsi and English by Rukhshana Media. These stories were first published by the Time Magazine in collaboration with Rukhshana Media and Pulitzer Center.
London, United Kingdom
By :Zahra Joya and Amie Ferris-Rotman
Sahra Alizai has spent half of her life teaching. Now, far from her native Kabul in the boxy London hotel room she shares with her husband, she has become the student. For 25 years, Alizai taught over 3,000 men and women to become school teachers at the prestigious Kabul Education University. Alizai took great delight in watching her students graduate and become teachers themselves, showing a new generation of girls how to read, write and learn Afghan history and literature.
Today the education instructor often feels lost in the British capital; each night, she dreams she is back in her classroom at the whiteboard.
Her salvation is learning. On weekdays, the 50-year-old takes a bus across London to Paddington, where she studies English. She hopes it will only be a matter of time before she is on the other side of the room, back to teaching others.
What do you miss about Afghanistan?
I miss teaching at my university. The university was everything for me. Every night I dream of being back in my classroom at the university, and not in this hotel room in London.
What has surprised you about where you live now?
The government here accepts people from different backgrounds and beliefs. Everyone seems to love each other.
What do you do to relax?
I do my English language homework. It’s a way of keeping my dignity. I am also keeping a diary of my experiences. So far I’ve written over 20 pages about our journey from Afghanistan to England.
When you think of Afghanistan’s future, what comes to mind?
If the Taliban continue to rule the way they do now, and deny girls’ education and women’s participation in society, Afghanistan will die. No government has recognized the Taliban as legitimate, so the situation will remain terrible. Afghanistan has become an island.
What food from home do you eat most often?
Afghan vegetables, like green beans and sabzi (stewed spinach). I do not like the food in England, especially pasta. And I will not try those small beans in a red sauce. Awful!
Describe your favorite possession that you have with you. Why is it so special to you?
My earrings and my bangles, which are a gift from my late mother. I also brought with me my cell phone which has my memories, and my only photos of Afghanistan.
Choose one word to describe yourself.
What word comes to mind when you think about the Taliban?
Where do you see yourself in one year from now?
I hope to continue my education in England, I want to learn English as soon as possible. I want to become a teacher again, in England. Maybe I can teach Afghan women in England.