I have kept my school bag and books in a safe place

Hoping that one day I can go back to school

By Lameha Sherzad
14th years Seema Gul in Jalalabad
UNICEF Afghanistan/2018/Sherzad

06 September 2018

Afghanistan, Jalalabad, 6 September 2018 - Fourteen-year-old Seema Gul, was a grade 7 student at the Alai Girls high school, the largest school in Jalalabad City, eastern Afghanistan. Seema loved studying especially with her other 30 classmates. Her dream was to become a medical doctor.  It was a joy to go to school every day.  Her school is located at the center of the city, neighboring two governmental entities – the Medical Faculty and the Finance Department. Three months ago, there was a complex attack on the Finance Department located next to her school. Her school was damaged and children in the school were severely affected.

“It was towards the end of the day. Me and my classmates were getting ready our books for the day’s last session. Suddenly, we heard a big sound of explosion. For a while I couldn’t hear anything.  I thought I was now deaf. The black smoke was all around us. Even now I still smell the bad smell that was spread everywhere. The voices of small children crying everywhere and asking for help is something I dream about every night. I lost my school and my friends. I really miss them, but I no longer join them, as my mother and my brother do not allow me,” says Seema.

Initially, after the incident Seema’s family tried to support her passion to continue her education. However just a week after the incident, while, she was on her way to take her final end of term exams, she encountered another explosion on the way to school. After that, her family decided to keep her at home and not allow her to go to school.

14th years Seema Gul in Jalalabad
UNICEF Afghanistan/2018/Sherzad

 "I wish I could have my father’s support to allow me go to school, but unfortunately, he could not even afford it.  I have kept my school bag and books in a safe place with the hope that one day I can go back to school.  This is a desperate wish, as my family is already talking about marriage", says Seema, with tears in her eyes.

Due to sustained violence, instability and poverty, families are increasing reverting to negative coping mechanism such as child marriage in order to survive.

Ensuring a safe space for all children, everywhere, to learn is not an option but a humanitarian imperative.  Quality education is the key to the stability, well being and development of any nation.