by Sara Nazari
In August 2021 Ascend and our generous supporters worked tirelessly to evacuate from Afghanistan as many Ascend staff and program participants as possible as the Taliban took over. Some with Ascend were able to leave on flights, others made it out of the country over-land. Through the contacts of our Ascend Afghan staff, we found a sympathetic travel agent who gave us early warning of available plane tickets which, despite costing $1,700 each, were in massively high demand. Despite the high cost, and because of our supporters, Ascend was able to secure 6 tickets for that flight. Two of those tickets were given to Sara and her sister. We knew there was very little time to get people out through this ordinary commercial route; we had no idea it would be the very last flight.
I remember Sara texting me the day they were meant to depart, first all excited and sending photos of her and her sister at the airport. Then, totally dejected when the flight was canceled and they were returned home. There had been fighting and a lack of control between the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and the airport/Taliban guards. The following day they all went back to the airport and this time, the flight departed Afghanistan. Four of the six girls went to Islamabad for about four weeks before continuing on to Ireland. Sara and her sister, Asma, stayed in Islamabad for six weeks before receiving their invitations to Poland in early December.
--Marina LeGree, Founder, Ascend
I am Sara Nazari, an Afghan Woman, a teacher, and also a climber. Due to the new regime, I was forced to leave my country with the company of my sister and friends with the help of Ascend. Certainly, it was the most challenging moment of my life, where I have experienced so many things nobody should ever experience, but since the democratic system had collapsed, and my country fell into insurgents’ authority, it was inevitable to leave. No better choice than leaving.
After many negotiations regarding peace for Afghanistan, agreements were signed, promises have been made and yet here we are, in a chaotic situation!
It could have been avoided, but my country was left behind, my country was betrayed. Women, children and even men’s rights are being violated. Nothing worse could have happened to my country and people. It’s all a crisis now! People are starving. Tens of hundreds of innocent children lost their lives due to no food and warm shelter in winter. The educational system has collapsed, both for men and women, but the worst is for women. They’re locked in their homes. I WISH THINGS COULD BE FAIRER THAN THIS TO MY PEOPLE.
The new regime says that they have become moderate, which is not the truth. They are the same people who were there 20 years ago when I just opened my eyes to the world, but with different strategies. They do not belong to my country, they never belonged. They are a group of people who are misusing our nationality, and most importantly, the name of a specific religion for their projected purposes. There is no violation in our religion; there is no force, bloodshed, killing or torture and yet they claim to be one, while they have crossed too many boundaries.
I wish the global community wouldn’t leave our people behind. I should unfortunately say, if things do not get taken care of, there is more misery yet to come on our people which will be grievously heartbreaking.
The main and only things that the world knows about Afghanistan is either war explosions, burqa and an overall negative picture. Meanwhile, no one knows our international doctors, engineers, businessmen and businesswomen, climbers, mountaineers. Many of the top students in the universities of the neighboring countries are Afghans. Do people have a clue about the Afghan robotics girls' team who compete at international levels with teams from the U.S and U.K. and all Europe? Do people have a clue about the Afghan National Cricket team who wins most of their international matches? Do people know about the cultural heritage and literature in Afghanistan? Zoroastrianism was first spread from Afghanistan; Buddhism has its deep roots in Afghanistan.
The best doctor of the year in the UK in 2022 is an Afghan. Hanifa Yousoufi was the first Afghan woman to summit the highest peak, Mount Noshaq. Most of the best handmade products, gemstones, rugs and pots come from AFG to the entire world. And most importantly, the best dry fruit used all over the whole world comes from Afghanistan. There are hundreds more!
Overall, considering that Afghans are the most war affected people, no one might expect all these successes. But educated Afghan youth are very intellectual and knowledgeable at young ages, because they face tough experiences in their lives. Does any media focus on these positive images of Afghanistan? No! the media does not cover that!
We have thousands of educated people, quality educated, who were working and still working tirelessly day and night to make a huge difference in society. And then, who do the insurgents target? This educated force. They never acknowledge the incredible heritage of Afghanistan. They make the transformational youth leave the country.
They have brain-washed our men back then to be harsh and cruel to themselves and their opposite gender. That’s why, unfortunately, we have a SMALL group of people who accept their government.
BUT with the help of the international community, we stand together and united against the devil!!!