Doll from Afghanistan wearing a blue burqa. The Afghan burqa (burka) is an outer garment designed to cover a woman’s body when she goes out in public in the Muslim culture. The full Afghan chadri has a small mesh area in the veil so the woman can see. The burqa in this photo is blue, with embroidery on the skull cap and veil. Blue is an important color in Islamic tradition, and is a frequently used color in mosques, such as the Blue Mosque in Herat. Women wear pajamis (tunic and trousers) under the burqa, then pull the sides of the burqa together for coverage
Location: Middle East
Main language: Pashto, Dari
Construction: cloth, silk
Height in Centimeters: 28
Height in Inches: 11
Reading Level: 4.30
My name is Sohaila, and I live in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a country with millions of people. It is in the Middle East, near Iraq and Pakistan. Most of the people are Muslim and worship Allah.
I am eleven years old, yet I feel like my life is just beginning. A couple weeks ago, my mother nudged me and said, “Wake up! Today is a very special day.” I rubbed my eyes and wondered what could possibly be special about the day. Almost all of my days were spent in a house with black windows. For the past six years, the Taliban have been in control of Afghanistan. Under their laws, no one is allowed to play music, buy toys, or even go to movies!
Life in Afghanistan is especially difficult for women and girls. Every day I watch my brothers go to school. I cry because I cannot go with them. I don’t understand why it is okay for boys to learn, but not for girls. Staying home every day is boring. There is nothing to do, and the house is very hot.
I can’t tell you much about Kabul because we were not allowed to go out very often. When we do venture to the market, Mother has to wear a burqa, and I have to wear a scarf on my head. Under the Taliban, all women have to wear a burqa (veil) that covers their body from head to toe. There is a small net in front of their eyes so they can see out of the burqa. If a woman does not wear a burqa, someone might throw acid in her face, or she might be whipped by the Taliban.
“What is so special about today?” I asked my mother when she told me to wake up. “Every day is the same here—hot and boring!”
“Things are changing,” said Mother, “We have a new government, and girls can go to school now. Get dressed and I will walk with you to your school.”
I couldn’t believe my ears—it was a dream come true! I quickly got dressed and put a scarf on my head. My mother put on her burqa. She knew it was no longer the law, but after being forced to wear it for six years, she was afraid to go out without it.
My “school” is held in the house of a neighbor, Mrs. Ayubi. For the past six years, women were not allowed to work, and Mrs. Ayubi was not allowed to teach. Now that a new government is in place, Mrs. Ayubi is able to teach again. All of the students at my school are girls. We don’t have any computers or fancy tables. We share pencils, and sometimes we use twigs or stones to learn mathematics. We don’t have many books either, but we feel like we are rich! Finally, we can leave our houses, learn to read and write, and dream of a life with music and laughter!