I am a human: Sonia’s Story

My name is Sonia. I am 25 years old and I am from Afghanistan, in the Badakhshan province. I was a GIZ [a German company that specializes in international development] employee for five years beginning in 2009. I was working for a gender project of our partner, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. We were conducting trainings for women in the districts regarding women’s rights, gender equality, gender-based violence, and human rights.

Even before the Taliban came to my province I was threatened by Muslim religious leaders in my province, who didn’t want our trainings. They said we were trying to change the ideas of Muslim women, and said that I was a non-Muslim woman because I was working for an international organization.

And then when the Taliban came to my province they were also threatening me, so I transferred from Badakhshan to the GIZ office in Kabul. After some months our organization needed a female internal control officer to travel around Afghanistan. The problem is that in Afghanistan, it is forbidden for a woman to travel without being escorted by a mahram [a relative the person is not allowed to marry]. I was the first and only woman to take this role.

During my internal control work I met a man named Mustafa who was working for GIZ on an air traffic control project in Mazare Sharef. He became my friend, and that same month we got married, another big problem as love marriages are taboo in Afghanistan.

After we were married, my husband also transferred his job to Kabul so that I could continue my work there. We worked in Kabul for two years, and then one day my husband heard that when the Taliban catch or find anyone who is working for an international organization, they have a machine that can use your fingerprint to identify which organization you work for. We were afraid and resigned our jobs. We went back to Badakhshan, my own province, and we were waiting. We thought maybe the situation will change and we can restart our work.

But after two years Badakhshan province was full of Taliban and the situation was getting worse. That is why we decided to leave Afghanistan.

I have an 8-month-old baby now, and it is only because of his future that I want to be out of Afghanistan. Every day he would wake up to bombs exploding. Yesterday a bomb in Kabul killed 318 people. I don’t want that for him.

My husband and I enjoyed our experience working with the German people, so that is why we want to go to Germany and serve for the German people, because they understand humanity. I can say when I start working with them, I know that I am a human and I am a woman. I hope I can make you all understand the same.

I know Greece is also a nice country and with kind people, but I don’t know their language. My husband speaks some German already and I’m sure we can learn German quickly. Through our years of working with Germans in Afghanistan, we can understand them very well. I want to continue working, and I would like to work for GIZ in Germany.

In the camp in Greece, Sonia created a school to teach English to Syrian and Afghani students. The classroom has several round desks for children to sit around, and there is a blackboard. Volunteers provided basic schools supplies, such as paper and pens. She teaches English for one hour a day. Fifty students attend the school, from six years old up. Some women even attend the classes, wanting to learn English. She says it is important to keep herself busy. She also has a 17-year-old girl helping her, who teaches some math.

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