Nabila Jawad, 35, was an olympic hopeful before the Taliban imposed their rule of strict religious fundamentalism upon Afghanistan in the 1990s. But in 2001, the warlord, who was driven from power by the Afghan people, let her marry her Pakistani teacher because he had more family and Afghan connections. (Her first husband, a fellow Afghan national, had disappeared after being arrested in November of that year by the Northern Alliance, an ethnic-based group whose fighters — and sympathizers — were fighting the Taliban.)
Now, 16 years later, Jawad is a mother to two young girls, living in Germany. According to Afghan authorities, Jawad and her husband arrived last week in Afghanistan, just two weeks after her two daughters, Tamim, 4, and Fatima, 11 months, were born. The girls, said to be in high health, have been raised by and returned to her family in Germany.
Jawad, who is now sporting a large silver earring and sitting in a heavily tinted windowless room in Kabul, said that her recent trip to Afghanistan was a very important step in her and her children’s lives.
“This was important for us because we had been waiting for the government of Afghanistan to help us,” she said. “After the rule of the Taliban, women had no rights.”
Today, Jawad said, “I am so happy that I could get the passports, and my daughters and I were able to be with my family. I was happy. This is a big step for me.”
In addition to Jawad, Afghans at the embassy have helped arrange the temporary home of her eldest daughter, a fellow trainee for Afghanistan’s national equestrian team. Local Afghan officials are still working to find her mother-in-law and father-in-law and are hoping that they can be re-united in Afghanistan with the extended family, but for now, both mother and daughters are stuck in Kabul.
“It’s very difficult,” said Jawad, as she navigated a gauntlet of men in traditional clothing desperate to help her. “We have one month here in the embassy. And we need to go back. We want to go back to our home country.”
Somehow, though, Afghan authorities had come to the realization that 20 years after the Taliban regime’s fall, it was not enough to have arrived in the last two weeks to see her two daughters for the first time.
“If they were here on our birthdays, we would do better for our children,” Jawad said as she steadied herself on a chair.
Read the full story at the New York Times.
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