Afghanistan: “My Anne Frank Year in Kabul” - exclusive

The Taliban hunt down the women who had gained education and independence in recent years. Here is the diary of one of them, who lives hidden hoping to escape

  afghanistan-today-34 This is how women live in Afghanistan Photo Video

Since the Taliban returned, more than 300 people have found shelter in secret houses, opened in Kabul by the Italian non-profit organization Pangea. Over 150 of them have been waiting for a humanitarian corridor for a year to escape. G., 36, gave us the diary of this suspended life, which we publish anonymously for security reasons. He is marked by fear and the attempt to restore a bit of normality to his children, with study and design. For life to win over terror and darkness. Like when, one morning, a girl was born in this shelter - Photo | video

I had been in line outside the airport for two days, on August 26, 2021. I was coming from Herat with my 6 children, 4 girls and 2 boys. The oldest is 13, the youngest 2. I was alone, my husband was imprisoned by the Taliban in Herat. I will never forget those 2 days in the crowd, under the sun, without drinking, eating, going to the bathroom. I was holding my children's hands, trying not to lose sight of them. Without a man it was difficult to achieve gate but I had no choice. Running away was the only hope. The children were exhausted, crying in fear and covering their eyes and ears so as not to see and hear the Taliban shooting in the air, whipping and beating people to prevent them from leaving.

Afghanistan, a year after the US retreat ... and after the return of the Taliban - guard

Then the explosion. When I woke up, all around me was blood and screams. My youngest child was not there. For a few hours I thought he was dead, then finally I found him again. He was scared but M., another mother, a widow, with 4 girls, had reassured him. M. and I found ourselves alone, among those corpses, with our children, without knowing where to go, who to call. We stayed two days under a small bridge in Kabul. Our hope of leaving was gone. Returning to Herat is risky, the Taliban are looking for me. Then an activist friend tells me that Pangea is opening one safehouse in Kabul. I call, I ask for help for me and M., I cannot leave her alone. We enter the safehouse a few days later. In Herat I had a nice house with 4 rooms; here there are 7 of us in a room, there is one for each family, only one bathroom for everyone, to be used in turn. It won't be easy but it will be for a little while, I tell myself. Soon the humanitarian corridors will open and we will be free. I explain to the children not to go near the windows. Curtains must always be drawn. We only have to turn on the light if it is necessary. They have to play without screaming. We must not make anyone suspicious.

Afghanistan a year later, child brides and the prison of the veil - guard

SEPTEMBER 2021 - I broke the phone sim to avoid being tracked, they gave me a new one. I can't use WhatsApp or social media. I can contact friends who are abroad with Viber or Telegram, but not my family in Afghanistan: I would put them at risk. Days go by and nothing changes. I was used to my independence, now I depend for everything on A., the activist from Pangea who runs the house with his wife. They will be my age. They carry the groceries and what they need twice a week. They risk their lives to protect ours. I will not forget it.

NOVEMBER 2021 - Time never seems to pass, between fear and hope of salvation. I see the gaze of my children go out more every day. I'm in limbo. If the Taliban were to knock on our door, it would be the end of us all. I often lose hope.

Afghanistan, the children's labyrinth - exclusive reportage

DECEMBER 2021 - Last night Z. gave birth to a baby girl, in safehouse . We live in the dark, I look at that baby girl and think about how difficult it is to be born a woman today in Afghanistan. But she was born, life has won, she is stronger. Then I look at my daughters and I think it cannot end like this, that we will soon leave, we will be free. Some days I thought about going out. With the burqa, hiding. I never had the courage. Too many activists have been discovered and captured. Nothing more is known about them. My kids only have me, I have to trust, stay here. This morning M. screamed, she can't take it anymore. She is tired, scared. We have been here for many months. When can we leave?

FEBRUARY 2022 - Two more families arrived today, with 2 children each. They were in another safehouse which was discovered by the Taliban; they escaped from the back and climbing onto the roof. They have eyes full of fear. The children do not take their hand off their mother's.

MARCH 2022 - With us, the teacher of a school for girls is also hidden with his family. With him we asked Pangea for a blackboard, carpet, notebooks and pens to do a home school, teach English, literature (in the Dari language), mathematics. At first, our pupils' eyes were dull. They seemed not to understand, not to feel. But day after day they became curious as before that August 15th. I can't describe their enthusiasm and their joy. Next week we will also include the drawing course. Seeing these children learn is a gift to us. It is a way to give them back the future and the everyday life that they are losing here. During a literature lesson I asked the children what it was like to live here: L., 6, replied that this house is beautiful. She lived in a tent outside Kabul, she didn't have a bathroom and didn't always have food. She now she has a home and every day we have something to eat.She, she lives with other children, she is happy and feels safe. I am amazed at the ability of children to find the positive in things.

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APRIL 2022 - Today is Eid, a very important holiday for us. It is the first time that we have celebrated it away from home, from my husband and from our family. My oldest baby cried this morning. She was thinking of her distant grandmother. How will she be? What will she be doing? How do you explain all this to a 13-year-old girl? We remembered the past Eid together: we women of the family gathered in the kitchen to prepare dinner. The grandmother told old anecdotes and with the aunts and cousins ​​we laughed a lot together. A moment that we miss today like air. Then, just before dinner, we wore a suit bought for the occasion. Last year's was fuchsia with embroidered yellow flowers. This year there will be none of this. A. and Pangea made us a surprise: roast lamb for dinner. We all dined together on the carpet but our hearts were with distant families.

JULY 2022 - Today I greeted M. and his children: his documents have arrived, he will go to Pakistan and then to Italy. I'm happy for her. We say goodbye, we hug. She took off her ring with the blue lapis lazuli and she gave it to me. Ours is not a farewell, we will see you soon in Italy, it is my hope. He who knows when my children and I will be safe.
by Marianna Aprile