Rahila is an expert at interviewing: as a journalist for five years, she got paid to ask questions. Also, she has a master’s degree in International Relations from the University of Bucharest in Romania.
As the host of a radio program for NATO in Afghanistan, she would often interview experts about health issues—mainly how to keep safe from disease—but she also interviewed women about their role in developing the country.
“I would interview Afghan soldiers—women—who worked in the Ministries of Defense and Interior. They had a key role in fighting the Taliban.” She explained that in the provinces, female soldiers were able to enter homes off limits to male soldiers. The female soldiers could more easily make connections within the community and gather intelligence about local Taliban activity. Despite these efforts to gain support, she said, there was some mistrust of the NATO. Some people believed NATO Radio worked against Muslims.
“Once I went to a market to get ‘vox-pop’ ” (This is digital recording of people’s opinions on a topic for playback on the radio.) I asked one man if he supported the Taliban. ‘Of course! Don’t you?’ I knew my safety was in danger so I left.”
Later she described events of last summer when the Taliban took over.
“It was disgraceful on August 15th when we saw the Taliban regain Afghanistan and enter Kabul. It was Sunday and I remember, the city become quiet in the afternoon and all shops, restaurants, schools, universities and gyms were closed. All were in fear and some escaped while some others returned home and covered themselves. My family and I were shocked and unable to decide where to go and how.”
“During the night, sounds of gun fire took the calmness of everyone and it continued until very late in the night. Banks were closed and all the money we saved for some years remained in our accounts. We didn’t know what to do. […] On the 27th of August, after three tries, I succeeded to reach the airport. I came together with my husband, my father and mother, two of my brothers, and my little sister.”
In the end, only Rahila and her husband were allowed to leave. Rahila’s family remains behind and she fears for their safety. While she worries for those left behind, she is also grateful to be among those who made it to freedom. “Thanks to the US government and its people for their generous support and warm hospitality. Also, I would like to thank the NATO alliances, US embassy-Madrid and the Spanish government who supported us until we arrive in the USA.”
Today, Rahila is resting in the peace of her South Seattle apartment and working with her ReWA case manager to start English classes. She hopes to be reunited with her family some day.