I planned to publish this blog on August 26th, which was a big day for me. Unfortunately, the chaos in Afghanistan shocked everyone, including my family and me. Every day is unpredictable for the Afghan people. No one knows what will happen tomorrow or one hour later. My wish and hope are to see my family safe and in a secure place.

August 26th was a life-changing day for me as that is when I went back to school. I started my graduate studies at Brandeis University. I always had faith, but I would never have been able to go back to school without your help.  I try to find words to express how grateful I am for all the support I received from people around the world who understand my situation, trust my determination, value my love for education, and donated to my GoFundMe.  Life is too short not to be grateful. We all need eyes to see the humanity and kindness in this universe. We are truly here for each other.

I escaped Afghanistan to Bangladesh in 2015. Two years ago, I traveled many miles away from Bangladesh, my second home, to the United States. As a young girl with no family, this journey was uncertain, scary, and overwhelming. The cultural differences were painful. I was alone, without family and friends here, and depressed. I started feeling isolated and hopeless about my education.

I kept writing articles and reading books all day, but it was not enough. I am a people person. I want real communication rather than virtual communication. I kept contacting organizations who support immigrants. Months passed, and uncertainty was always ahead of me.

But let me tell you, miracles never die…

After many calls and emails to immigrant organizations, I received hope and support from the Refugee Immigration Ministry and Arlington Refugee Community Support (ArCS) in Arlington, Massachusetts. ArCS is not only a community but also my family.

The ArCS community not only provided me safety and security with housing, but also connected me with a community of volunteers who became my family.  They trusted me and walked with me through my dreams and assisted me to see light in very dark times. With their motivation and support, I applied for a volunteer internship to invest my time in learning and experience. Everything was exciting and I was happy.

All of a sudden, COVID-19 happened. I become a lonely bird in a cage. I had no communication with anyone. I stayed in my room the entire day, staring around the corners and crying.

One day I thought about optimizing the COVID quarantine and applying for a Masters degree program. Again, the ArCS community trusted and supported me. The volunteers helped me put together my application and improve my English.

Caroline Ellis, my dear mentor, is a very kind-hearted person.  She helped me practice my reading, writing and high-frequency words for the GRE exam. It was an amazing experience. Gradually, the COVID situation became more severe and I became more determined to apply to grad school.

After submitting applications to several universities, I received admission at one of my top priority schools — Brandeis University — for a Masters degree in International Economics and Finance! The support, love and kindness of people and donors globally gave me the hope to start my studies today. It was not possible without your kindness.

Currently, the Taliban are taking peace and education away from girls in Afghanistan. I am staying here, determined to nurture my dreams with an education. I promise to continue to receive an education and support other girls to achieve their dreams and end child marriage.

Education is like the warmest rays of sun that melt the ice of extremism. Education is the powerful light that vanishes the darkness of fear. Education is the strongest weapon that can one day beat Taliban extremism. I will never stop fighting for girls’ education now and through my future foundation entitled, “Women, Leadership and Sports.

Please help Shagufa raise funds to pursue her education and help end child marriage in developing countries. Donate here: ShagufaGoFundMe