Zainab (Afghanistan), 2017, Giclée fine art print, 120 x 120 cm

16 years old

Janine Antoni’s work with the loom1 reminded me of Afghanistan, where they still use this device, especially in the villages. People in Afghanistan have practiced the art of the loom for ages. They weave rugs and carpets with flowers and other beautiful designs and lots of beautiful colors. As far as I know, these rugs are very expensive and most of them are sent to other countries abroad. It’s mostly women and not men who work the loom, because women know more about colors and designs and they can draw better. Besides, because of the culture, women don’t often leave the house. So, every home has a loom so that the woman of the house can have something to do that will also help her family financially.

Just like the artist talks about her dreams through her work, I have my dreams, too, my own goals. I’m trying to finish my education, whether in Greece or in another country, and when that happens, I’ll decide exactly what I want to do. Whatever it is, I want to be a woman who is of help to society and the environment and every country in the whole world. Maybe I’ll start a business after my studies. I haven’t decided yet what kind of business it’ll be, but I’m sure that’s what I’ll do. And I have a dream: to help my country, Afghanistan, where things aren’t so good now. That’s why one day I want to help and offer my country something.

Because of the situation in Afghanistan, women aren’t valued the way they should be. I hope one day my country gets to the point where it will recognize the value every woman has. I also think about the children who are on their own, who became orphans because of the war.  They are falling behind in school because they have to work on the streets collecting garbage to get by. This is something I want to help my country with, to help kids go to school and not have to wander the streets and do the kinds of jobs they’re doing. I mean, I want to build a place, a shelter, where children who don’t have a family can live in decent conditions. I want to help them go to school and finish their studies so that they don’t wind up uneducated and on the street. And so that nobody forces them to work on the streets and at the traffic lights. Of course, I know I can’t do much on my own to change the situation. But maybe if I achieve what I plan to do, I’ll be able to help improve things.

I’m the only girl in my family. I have five brothers. I live with the youngest one in Greece with my parents. My older brothers live in Germany, where they’re making a life for themselves. The whole family left Afghanistan because of all the problems in the country. I had a difficult life in my country and I don’t have nice memories from that time. Of course, I’m upset by what’s happening in my country now. Every time I see on the news there’s been a violent attack in Afghanistan and people have lost their lives, I want things to change.  Because my country is like a second mother to me. That’s how I see it.

But it’s not all over yet. We young people have to take up the burden ourselves to rebuild the country and start a new life there, each of us in our way. That’s why, more than anything else, I want to build my future and the future for other children, too, so we can all offer something together. That’s my deepest wish, to help make a better future.

I’m not saying I’ve always thought like that. But since I got here and saw what conditions are like in another country, I started thinking, why can’t people in Afghanistan live in peace? We can’t we be safe? Thinking about that made me decide to set a goal for myself to become a woman who’s of use to her country and the rest of the world.

Maybe one day I’ll leave Greece to go and live in another country. But I’ll never forget this goal. I have a lot more things in mind, but we’ll see what the future brings.

I’m still at the start of my journey.


Refers to Slumber, 1994.