Rohina Rahimi lives in Kabul, Afghanistan. Her business partner fled the country to Connecticut, but she has been unable to leave the Taliban-ruled country. Beheshta Zahra Farhad

As a woman who lives in a war-ridden country where every day is like the last chance for living, I always believe that we all need a strong reason for living, a clear vision, a very logical answer to the meaning of life. I found the answer, by helping other people, especially women.

I believe that women must stand and fight for their own rights. Don’t wait for others to fight for your dignity because my motto in life is: Be the change you want. If you want something go and get it.

My passion was clear to me. I wanted to make the world a better place for living. I know it is a very big goal and whenever I talked about my passion, most people started laughing at me and saying it is impossible. But I always knew that what is impossible for them is not for me because small-minded people do not have the ability to understand big minds’ goals.

It is this aspiration that persuaded me to pursue my bachelor’s degree in software engineering and start my master’s in business administration to make myself capable of achieving my goals. But after these changes in Afghanistan, the Taliban government did not allow women to join these classes.

I was a university student when I started working. It was a great experience and chance for me to know how to achieve my goals, and how to help other girls and women — how to motivate them to help them believe that they are worth enough and they are powerful.

In 2020, I decided to establish my own software design company with two of my friends to help our people and to introduce people to new technology and new ways of doing business.

In Afghanistan, Our business’s main focus was girls and women that had small business. Also I was a member of a think tank named Guardians which held free training, motivational sessions, book reading sessions for Afghans –especially for youths.

Everything was going well. My team and I worked very hard to create some changes in the lives of our people and for the development of our country. But after August 15, 2021, when the Afghan government collapsed and the Taliban took over, suddenly everything changed. Our aspirations were dashed and all our efforts seemed to be in vain.

One of my partners was Emal Walizada, who has since migrated to Connecticut. Some of my other co-workers migrated to other countries during the evacuation process. I tried to leave the country too, but unfortunately, there was no chance for me at that time. I had no choice but to close the business because we were working as a cohesive group and now we were not allowed to operate.

If there is an opportunity for me to come to Connecticut to start my business and continue working on my master’s degree, I would love to do that to achieve my long-term goals. As it is, the only solution for me right now is to leave Afghanistan.

It is so shameful that in the 21st century our girls do not have permission to go to schools, our people live in poverty and our children are struggling with malnutrition and hunger. And still, the world is watching the death of my compatriots in complete silence.

Today I am a software engineer, a businesswoman, and a writer, but I cannot help my people. I cannot help those Afghan girls who cry for education behind the closed doors of schools and universities. The only thing that I have with me is the words that I share through social media platforms and to raise my voice against this injustice.

But I can say with complete pride and confidence that the world will remember us as a nation that cried for education, and fought for freedom, and the right to live.

Now, as a woman living in Kabul, I am witness to the struggles and sufferings of thousands of Afghans. Every day we are worried about what new rules they will set for us.

Those who live in Afghanistan are suffering from severe poverty. They strive for their basic rights like education, work and freedom of expressions and choice. Those who have left Afghanistan face a different type of systematic discrimination and judgment and are forced to completely change their lifestyle and their future goals.

Generally, I think life will never be the same for Afghans. We do not know what the future will bring for us.

The only thing that I can say for people all over the world: “Please do not forget Afghanistan and the Afghan people, especially Afghan girls and women.”

Rohina Rahimi lives in Kabul, Afghanistan.