Shamsuddin Amin
25 years old
MA in Central Asian Studies
American University of Central Asia
Nangarhar Province


August 14 began as a usual workday. We participated in a meeting at the governor’s office. That day, I was working closely with rural communities of Eastern Laghman to facilitate a crucial aspect of the project I was working on. It was to negotiate with the communities to allow women to participate in the project activities. However, fear was slowly sinking into the office, as the provinces were collapsing faster than expected and the news on the fall of Laghman was circulating. We were warned by our security team to leave the offices and seek refuge in Nangarhar. Around 12 p.m. I was done with the first meetings of the day with the community, as I received updates that the Taliban had entered the city and were hiding in houses. In total disbelief, our security team rushed us to cars to take public transportation, to spread out and leave the city. We were forced to leave everything behind. In the afternoon, Kunar province collapsed with no resistance, and in the evening Laghman and Nangarhar collapsed without any resistance from the Afghan National Army. We were forced to hide in relatives’ houses, as we were affiliated with a prominent NGO and were activists.

The first thought that rushed through my mind was the safety of my family. The idea that I had to suspend my projects was haunting me. For weeks, I was in shock and could not imagine what had happened. In fear as the Talibs were searching for former government and NGO employees, I had to erase all the data I had on my pc, phone and had to get rid of my documents. In a matter of hours, the way of life I knew, and how I imagined my future, was gone. No job, no home, nothing. It was like I was having a nightmare that never ended.

I had already made my peace with leaving the country just a week before the fall of the country by accepting a scholarship to study at AUCA, but I never thought it would be under such circumstances. Saying goodbyes to family and friends was difficult and leaving everything behind was hard, but my family was supportive of my decision. My dad helped me get to Kabul, as I was too afraid to travel alone. My mom, she is the greatest human I have ever known, hugged me as she was weeping and told me, “My sweet child you have suffered a lot, may God protect you from all the evil, I may not be alive when you return back but never forget your homeland.” It was a bittersweet moment. I had to make a hard journey but the feeling of being safe, to follow my dreams of studying and to just be alive, helped me through such moments.

It was an emotional journey, full of memories. The night we were leaving, we gathered at a friend’s place, hiding from threats unknown to us, afraid of everyone and everything. When we entered Pakistan, we all were relieved having escaped the brutality.

Afghanistan is my passion; I am in love with this country. However, considering the current political climate and without seeing a significant change, it would be difficult to return. But I am an optimist. I hope for a brighter future, when youth like me can come back to the country and rebuild it. I ask the international community to not forget Afghanistan. People are suffering, lives are at stake. Millions of Afghans are starving for food, education and opportunities. Please help the people in these difficult times. Please do not let my beloved country, my people, my young siblings suffer more.