One door shuts, another opens


By Monique Awad
UNICEF Afghanistan/2020
21 September 2020

Nangarhar, Afghanistan, 22 September 2020 – Struggle in life is the norm for 11-year old Sowaira. Born as a refugee in Pakistan, she hoped to return home to her district of Kunar province, northeast of Afghanistan. 

Her home was not how she had expected it to be.  It was a war-torn district, putting their lives at risk.  With her family, she had no alternative  but to escape.

‘We had to leave our town, and we were displaced to Zarinabad village of Bihsud, Nangarhar.

Everything was going well for the family, until they lost their beloved father, Wali Rahman.  As an army officer, he lost his life fighting for his country.

‘A father is like a protective shield, always protecting us,’ says Sowaira with tears in her eyes. ‘My father was my hero and died as a hero.’

Amid all these miseries, it was time for Sowaira to go to school.  Her mother Zulaikha, who is a well-educated woman was concerned for the safety of her children.

‘School is miles away, and Torkham-Jalalabad road is a fatal road,’ says Zulaikha.  ‘As a mother, I cannot risk my children’s lives.’

Child in CBE
UNICEF Afghanistan/2020/Omid Fazel

Education made possible

To Sowaira’s luck, and with funding from USAID, and individual donors to UNICEF Regular Resources, with partners, UNICEF established a community-based education in her village for internally-displaced people and returnees. 

Sowaira started her primary education, and her mother was appointed as a school teacher.

‘God is always fair,’ says Zulaikha with content.  ‘After all of our suffering, I know we deserve this.’

Sowaira is happy to return to school.  Being born as a refugee, escaping war all her life, losing her father, was the least overwhelming.  Yet now, it is a new beginning.

‘Now I have a chance to learn and continue my education,’ says Sowaira with a smile.

Sowaira is now a Grade 4 student.  She acquired good literacy and numeracy skills.

‘I want to become a physician in the future,’ says Sowaira.  ‘The only way to end violence in our country is through education.’


The story was drafted with inputs from Zakir Ahmad, Education Technical Extender, UNICEF