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August 15, 2023, marks a day that few in Afghanistan expect to see again in 2021. Two years after the Taliban took control of Kabul, Afghanistan remains scarred by the loss of democracy and women’s rights. The once-vibrant public life has faded into obscurity, particularly for women who have been stripped of their freedoms – banned from education, work, travel, sports, and even freedom of speech.
In the aftermath of Afghanistan’s collapse, Gaisu Yari went on a mission to connect with fellow Afghans living in exile while grappling with their trauma, guilt, and hopelessness about the future. This quest led to the creation of the Afghan Voices of Hope project. Over two years, more than 200 stories have been collected, revealing a shared experience of loss, guilt, and resilience.
These stories highlight the emotional toll of displacement as refugees are uprooted from their homes, relationships, and careers. When asked about the moment they decided to leave, many expressed profound guilt over leaving loved ones behind. They yearned for their physical belongings, cultural heritage, and personal dreams. These women’s stories challenge us to consider the devastating impact of leaving behind a sense of belonging.