“My father was a teacher in a country consumed by war, hopelessness, and chaos. He was my hero, an educator in a society devoid of schools and educational opportunities. He created a library of books—religious, non-religious, scientific, school books; it had everything for me and my six siblings at home. Through teaching, he worked tirelessly to create a brighter future for us. All of my sisters are now teachers. Well, they were until the Taliban took over. They had closed all the girls’ schools, so they lost their jobs. All of my brothers went to university. My father made sure that we wouldn’t be behind in our education. But because of the deterioration of security and the takeover of the country, I had to flee Afghanistan. I am not a Muslim anymore. To the Taliban, abandoning Islam is a crime punishable by beheading. Before the Taliban, I was an activist in my community, fighting against extreme ideologies, against people using religion for their benefit. I was saying no to this. The evolution in my mind started when I turned 18. Perhaps because of the education I received from my father, I was able to ask better questions, for which I couldn’t find a satisfying answers. Up until that point, I was very religious and spent most of my time praying, but I was quite inquisitive. I tried to validate basic beliefs, and they no longer matched my logic. I began to see all the misuse, chaos, and suffering around religion—people being killed in the name of God. Think about that for a minute… It makes no sense. I could not be part of that anymore…”
2/2 “My new religion is humanity. Do no harm. Be good and help each other. I started to live by this, I worked on gender promotion and gave literacy classes for women and elderly. This labelled me as a secular person. I began to work with international humanitarian agencies, trying to separate the government from the religious body and educate people that we don’t need religion to govern a country. I would not be able continue my work in Afghanistan now. I literally had no choice but to flee the country. Fortunately, around that time, Ireland had announced a humanitarian protection program, which I applied to. I was thankfully selected and we were given program refugee status. I feel that a part of me was lost when I left Afghanistan. All my social life, my family, and friends are either left for other countries or stayed and now suffer under the new system, which is very disappointing to see. A step backwards for a country in a world and at a time when everything is accelerating forward. I often feel very lonely and incomplete, sometimes that gap is being filled with the new friends and communities I’ve met here. I am very grateful for Ireland and the opportunity to live here; they have been very generous and kind to me.”
GOAL NextGen actively works to challenge stereotypes and encourage independent thinking by building and strengthening the links between the voices and experiences of people in crises globally and young people, communities, society leaders and decision-makers in Ireland. GOAL NextGen aims to empower young people in Ireland to understand the root causes and consequences of global crises and to act in pursuit of a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive world for all.