This is Suzanne's* story in her own words....
I am Suzanne* from Afghanistan. I was a computer science student at Kabul Polytechnic University.
As the world is aware of past events and developments in Afghanistan, the conditions for women's education and employment are not favorable at all for women. My generation and I have been working for 20 years to change the situation by breaking taboos.
As my family had relatively clearer views and thoughts, the younger members of the family were often active in social and cultural activities and litigation. The activities of most Afghan families during these years brought many victims. Many young people were killed. I lost many loved ones, each of whom was an important and active member of society. Our world was just evolving, but unfortunately all our efforts to fulfill our dreams were ruined again.
We were at the university when the previous government fell and we could not believe it until the last moment. Living away from family in Kabul is very difficult for a girl in such miserable conditions. The surrender of the capital without any resistance was a shock to the youth. However, we tried to normalize the situation, go out in normal clothes and go about our normal activities, but unfortunately we faced very strong opposition.
These mutual oppositions led to clashes and demonstrations, which had very painful consequences for women. We received many threats and we were all identified one by one. Many were arrested, and even killed.
Due to very severe threats, I had to go to Mazar with my friend from Kabul and hide there. And we were looking for a way to save our lives. Until we were introduced to the program run by Shai Fund through friends and they became our savior.
After being hidden for several months finally we found our way to get out. We went to Kabul with a thousand fears. After completing our administrative work, we were able to leave Afghanistan.
I could not believe we succeeded until the plane took off.
It was a difficult moment, tears of joy and sorrow away from family, homeland and thousands of miserable women and girls who could not escape and are imprisoned in their homes...
We are just like a bird released from a cage. We used to think life was just a cage, but now that we are free and we see the world bigger than a cage, and we experience flight. The feeling of freedom and flight is the most beautiful feeling in the world.
And we owe this feeling and freedom to people who do not withhold any help or cooperation from us. They gave us the opportunity to study at one of the best universities and live in one of the best places in the world. They became my family and I really love them. And I wish this feeling and freedom for everyone.
And finally, I thank God for making us worthy of all this goodness and forgiveness so that I can get to know these good people. And I promise that with God's help, I will make up for all this good work and one day help the other needy.
* Names changed to protect identity.