Raihana is 17 years old and every morning she puts on her school uniform, checks herself in the mirror and then tutors her younger sister in the privacy of their own home.
She says that looking in the mirror, at herself in her school dress, and scrolling through photographs taken with her former classmates brings back waves of memories, happy memories.
School was important to Raihana, who had been in Grade 12 when the Taliban banned girls from school. She had dreamed of graduating and going on to study further. But that didn’t happen.
She says that now, looking through her photos, brings some relief, relief in the sense of “hope”, for a better future.
Every day, Raihana tutors her sister, who is in Grade 8, and using a whiteboard, lessons are held.
“We used to study for one [academic] year and obtained our results through hard work. My friends, who were in the twelfth grade, would have graduated this year; But I have no idea what will happen in the future. Should we study or not? If we study, we need motivation; But now we have no motivation, I am not the only one who says this, this is a pain that all Afghan girls share,” Raihana said.
“Even though I study at home and motivate myself, I also teach my sister who is in the eighth grade. My mother says that we should not work [at home], but study and change the current situation of this country,” she added.
Raihana in turn appealed to the Taliban to reopen schools for girls and “not to make our bodies without souls. Instead, make us something that will amaze the world,” she said.
Wafa Nazari, is another hardworking student who had wanted to take the university entrance exam this year and said “unfortunately the Taliban won’t allow us.”
Instead, she’s reading books and hopes she will be able to create a better future for herself.
It has now been almost a year and a half since the Taliban banned teenage girls from going to school, over a month since the group banned women and girls from getting a university education and from working for non-government organizations (NGOs).
Despite efforts on the part of the United Nations, the European Parliament, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to make the Taliban reverse their decisions, nothing has changed and girls still dream of the day they can return to school, go back to university and resume work.