Sgt. Kimberly Lamb (U.S. Armed Forces), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
One day Sister Fazlia* was a schoolteacher, the next she was jobless. One day she was preparing for her wedding, the next it was put on hold. One day she was respected by the community, the next she was fleeing for her life.
The turning point was last summer, when the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan. The day after all the schools closed for girls, the Taliban came looking for her—being both a schoolteacher and a Christian put a target on her back. Fazlia is now an enemy of the state.
“Her dreams are now kind of held midway,” shares Hana Nasri*, an Open Doors local partner who visited her in a neighbouring country. “Her wedding dress was all ready but now the whole world changed for her. We held each other crying. And she kept pointing to heaven. That’s where her strength to endure comes from.”
Sister Fazlia left Afghanistan with seven school children, as well as some nephews and nieces. Now out of the country, she continues to teach the children, but with Bible songs.
“Having lived all her life in a culture where a father, a husband, a brother or a son provides protection and safeguards a woman’s decisions and journey, the stretch of road she’s on now is particularly challenging as she assumes those responsibilities herself in an alien environment,” explains Hana Nasri. It means that Sister Fazlia’s own dreams may go unfulfilled, as she faces the possibility of having to sacrifice her hopes of a wedding and a family of her own, as well as her career. Her priority today is the children in her care.
“I have always loved them very much,” she says. “And I wouldn’t trust anyone else to take care of them. I made the right choice, but I don’t know how my story will end.”
“At that moment,” Hana Nasri continues, “Fazlia took my hand and said, ‘Your hands, for now, are like God’s loving hand on me.’ She then pointed to heaven, from where she gets her strength.”
Sister Fazlia’s experiences as a schoolteacher are a grim reflection of the way women and girls are inhibited under Taliban rule. The group promised the opening of schools for girls on 21 March, but on 23 March, just hours after schools officially reopened, the ministry of education overturned their previous decision – secondary schools for Afghan girls were suddenly closed, to the heartbreak and dismay of thousands of young girls and parents in the country.
Women disempowered by the Taliban
This is the terrible mandate the Taliban have announced for all girls in the country (No. 1 on Open Doors 2022 World Watch List). Banning education means women can’t have or pursue professional careers. Instead, they’re forced to rely solely on their husbands for financial support and status.
As Fazlia continues to mourn the life that could have been, she faces a completely unknown future.
Let’s fall on our knees
Let’s fall on our knees on our sister’s behalf and pray God will illuminate His plan for her. Let’s pray she’ll find restoration and that the right people will cross her path and help her take next steps on this completely foreign road. And let’s also pray blessings over her—Fazlia’s courage will permanently change at least seven lives for the better; let’s pray God will anoint her, keep her and give her peace.
Lord, we ask You please hear our prayers for our bold and dear sister—and all the girls and women in Afghanistan who must live under such oppression and injustice.