Hope Is Still There

Behishta (19) has been living in Germany for a year. Her dreams of becoming a fashion designer were destroyed by the Taliban, just like her life in her home country Afghanistan. Here in Germany, Behista is fighting to be allowed to stay, to finally make her dreams come true.

Fotograf*in: privat

My name is Behishta, I’m 19 years old. I was born in Afghanistan but I grew up in Tashkent, Uzbekistan and today I want to share my story with you and tell you about my experience. My story is no different from the other girls who are living in a country called Afghanistan. The country I called my motherland, the country I loved and enjoyed the most.

My story might not have the same journey as any other afghan girl out there but yet at some point we still have something in common: the pain that is unforgettable even if you try to neglect it or escape from it: it will always follow you like a shadow. I was born in Afghanistan in an open-minded family. Thanks to my parents I never felt any difference between my female siblings, I was given the same opportunities, I was treated the same or even nicer compared to them. This has never been a problem for us.

But all this vanished day by day when I finally left the comfort zone of my home. I started to learn how to write, how to read or simply how to differentiate right from wrong and deal with the obstacles by myself. As soon as I entered society I felt a weakness, a disability in me which I never believed in.

I grew up as an immigrant, I was very little when we moved to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, as my father was working in the embassy of Afghanistan in Tashkent. I started my studies there, made friends and spent all of my childhood there. I thought that this is my home. However, when I got older I realized that I belong somewhere else, I have my own nation and country.

Life in Afghanistan

In 2014 my parents decided to come back to our country since my relatives and family were all in Afghanistan. When I came back to Afghanistan everything was different to me. It was hard to get accustomed to it at first but eventually I got used to it and started my new life. I began school, I had new dreams, dreams of becoming someone in order to change my country for the better. I want to become a fashion designer.

Art has always played a significant role in my life. I recall my first painting and wish that I had more time to improve it. I have always strived for excellence in my work, even as a child. After graduating from high school I began to consider what I truly desired and what exactly I  required. I understood that fine arts are undervalued in Afghanistan and that pursuing a career in the arts is difficult. As a result, I decided to leverage my artistic abilities to start my own business and become a successful businesswoman.

Everything came to an instant halt

Before the Taliban we had a country full of hope, joy and happiness. You could see how hope shone from everyone’s face, everyone was working hard for their life, everyone had hope and dreams to work for. We as the young generation were working for the development of our country, for  the achievement of our dreams. But suddenly everything seemed to come to an instant halt: dread, tears and disappointment swept the country.

Taliban took our beloved country and damaged all our achievements and dreams. They were opposed to our education. They didn’t let girls go to school. I still remember how my little siblings were usually going to school together, but after the taliban took over of the country my sister wasn’t allowed to go, is there anything more painful than this?

The Taliban were searching particularly for those who come from a political family and work for the government and social activists. This put me and my family at highest risk, since my mother was a women rights activist and also my father’s life was in great danger since he was a military man who worked in the ministry of interior affairs.

He had been in different positions throughout his life – he could be a target for the Taliban at any time. They searched our homes many times and made us hide ourselves at unknown places. I felt despair and sadness, believing that I was done and that the nightmare I had feared was unfolding before my eyes, leaving me with no choice but to escape the country.

A new beginning?

We have lost our beloved country, our home, our motherland. There was no hope that I start my university and pursue my favorite career.
I was unable to go work in order to assist my community. Not only me, but all female members of my family.How could we live under their control and recover after they have killed hundreds of our innocent people? There are many lasting terrible images from the last time the Taliban governed Afghanistan: the panic, the public beatings, poverty, fear and injustice.

Therefore, we had no choice but to flee the country because of the threats that my family and I were receiving. There were no major disputes after we moved to a safer location, but we were not in a good emotional state. It was difficult to adjust to a new environment and interact with new people.

We eventually got accustomed to it, and we are now a lot better and working hard to improve our life and achieve our goals. My only concern right now is to find a better place to continue my education and acquire the knowledge I need, since I am a refugee currently residing in Hamburg, Germany. However, moving to Germany did not mean that difficulties and challenges were resolved.

It’s not the end of the story

I’ve gone through things that I never anticipated. Racism and discrimination against immigrants are unethical and difficult to deal with in Europe. It’s a big misconception that immigrants leave their country just for the wealthy West, and some people think they have no concept of what it means to live. I’ve been in Germany for a year, but despite this, I haven’t been able to find a place to study or further my education, despite my best efforts.

Additionally, there are several rules and regulations that I did not know before, thus I have faced some difficulties gaining my residence permit in Germany. It’s not the end of the story, and if you truly want something, I believe you can have it. I continue to put up effort to achieve my dreams and goals. I’m doing my best to learn the language while volunteering in a few organizations to develop my communication skills and get to know people.

Eventually, I hope to be able to use my education to help others and become the person I want to be. My greatest aim is to change the common belief that they have about refugees in Europe. I want the world to know that refugees and immigrants should be treated equally regardless of their opinions, skin color, or religious affiliation. I want to demonstrate to them that, given the right circumstances, refugees are just as capable as anyone else.

After all, I hope that I will once again, be able to live freely in my own country, Afghanistan.


This article was also published in German.


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Behishta, 19, kommt aus Afghanistan und lebt seit einem Jahr in Hamburg. Bei kohero erzählt sie ihre persönliche Geschichte.

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