Images provided by the author. Safa Farid, the treasurer of the Afghan Student Union.
On August 15, 2021, Afghans lost their country to the Taliban while the world silently watched. The Bay Area is home to over 60,000 Afghans mostly residing in Fremont, who fled their country from this exact situation that happened nearly 20 years ago. Afghans have suffered through a numerous amount of situations throughout history, as many Washington students know from their history and English classes. The Soviet-Afghan war, which lasted from December 24th, 1979 to February 15th, 1989. The Soviet Union’s purpose was to spread communism and take control of Afghanistan’s natural resources. Between 562,000 to 2,000,000 Afghans were killed by the Soviets and nearly 6.5%-11.5% of Afghans become refugees. On top of that, the Taliban conquered Afghanistan in 1990, they’ve been through a lot. Today, many vulnerable Afghans sit at home in “Little Kabul” with endless worries about their country and family back home. As a community, Afghans in the Bay Area have organized protests, started organizations collected- donations for incoming Afghan refugees, and got in contact with lawyers who are trying their best to help Afghans in danger flee to safety.
After enduring weeks of constant stress and feeling overwhelmed, many Afghans in the Bay Area are suffering mentally. Seeing their homeland stripped away from them by an extremist group is definitely a painful experience. Safa Farid, a senior, Afghan-American, and treasurer of the Afghan Student Union said: “Personally it’s anger and sadness to see your country getting taken over by the same people who took your country 20 years ago.” Farid continues by saying, “It really hurts to see my people relive the same situation my parents fled from. My parents witnessed this twice in their lifetime. Young men who had a bright future ahead literally fell from the sky clinging onto American aircrafts. Hanging onto airplane wings should portray enough for what us Afghans are feeling and what the Afghans back home deeply fear.” In the Bay Area a very important figure to the Afghan community is Khaled Husseini, author of the Kite Runner, which all sophomores read. Mr. Kim, an English, AP Psychology, and former 10th grade teacher who taught the book talks about how he would have changed his lessons regarding the situation in Afghanistan. “I would’ve definitely updated the history of Afghanistan, stemming back essentially from when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan,” he said. “It really turned it from a liberal country in the mid centuries and the effects that everything really had up until America started helping them so to speak.” He continues by saying, “In terms of what I would do differently now is to really highlight 2002-2003 to talk about how we got here right now. We were supposed to be there to help and we just kind of jumped shift.”
One of the main reasons Afghans are distressed about the Taliban takeover is the Taliban’s treatment of women. For example, when the Taliban was previously in power, women were not able to get an education nor be in contact with men who weren’t close blood relations. An Afghan-American born and raised in Fremont, California named Zoey Samadi spoke about these concerns. “As a woman myself who’s been to Afghanistan, I felt extremely uncomfortable especially as a woman,” she said. “I can’t begin to imagine how women feel now since the Taliban has taken over. The media says women can still go to school but based on my conversation with my family in Afghanistan they say it’s misleading information.” Samadi continues by saying, “I wish there was more I can do for my people. Women don’t deserve to live this way. It breaks my heart to see how they are treated worthlessly and like animals. Every woman deserves the right to a life!” She believes there’s so much fight left to be fought so Afghans can feel safe in their own country. In conclusion, we can still do so much to help our fellow Afghans in our community who are suffering and also those who are struggling back home or fleeing the country.
Heba Kibboua is a senior at Washington. She grew up in Fremont, California but her roots are from Algeria and Afghanistan. This is her first year at the Hatchet. Her journalistic interests are mainly world issues, such as the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. She also has a passion for activism and equal rights. Her hobbies consist of baking and skating. An extracurricular activity she is a part of at school is being the president for ASU (Afghan Student Union). Her future plans are going to medical school to become a physician's assistant.