Shabana's letter to The New York Times

Reprinted below is Shabana’s letter to The New York Times, written in response to the front-page article “In Afghanistan’s Season of Crisis, ‘Words Do Not Have the Strength’” and published on October 25.

In 2001 I was a girl growing up in Kabul, forbidden by the Taliban to attend school. So much has changed over 17 years, and yet so much has not: More than 60 percent of adolescent Afghan girls are illiterate, and could not read this letter.

As founder of my country’s first and only boarding school for girls, I know that education will be a critical driver of the future we as Afghans will build for ourselves. This future cannot be imposed from the outside; it must rise organically from the bottom up. I’m only one of the many Afghan women and men, young and old, who are working and sacrificing to create this new tomorrow, and we will not be deterred.

As your reporter so beautifully writes, “Life continues as a daily resistance.” We find the strength to endure, to overcome, to live — we find, through it all, the words to write the poetry of our country’s future. A season of crisis, perhaps, but as spring follows winter, all seasons must pass.

Shabana’s letter can be read here, on The New York Times’ website.

Shabana Basij-Rasikh