A young Afghan computer programmer builds her new life

When Sofia*, 25, fled Afghanistan in August 2021, she had a bachelor’s degree in computer science and a aspiration of creating internet sites that deliver people with each other. With assistance from the International Rescue Committee (IRC), she was able to restart her lifetime in the United States, where she hopes to rebuild her profession as a computer programmer.

A young woman, with her back to the camera, sits at a desk and types on her laptop.

Sofia found out pc science when she was in 11th quality. She states that the self-control “will help introduce people today to the earth and display them what is taking place.”

Photograph: Andrew Oberstadt for the IRC

The U.S. has welcomed more than 74,000 Afghan refugees considering that the change in energy in August 2021. Several of these refugees were forced to flee the only properties they experienced ever known.

The IRC has been supporting Afghans like Sofia throughout the region, welcoming them to U.S. government-run “Safe Havens” where by they receive temporary accommodations, food stuff and health-related treatment. When they leave the Secure Havens, the IRC can help lots of of them come across housing, employment, well being care and other essentials.

In this article is Sofia’s story.

How did you become fascinated in computer science?

I was in 11th grade when a person of my classmates explained to me about a program on Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint in the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. Most of us did not have access to desktops at that time, but we had been identified to just take the system.

After graduating superior school, I determined to go on my examine in this field because I experienced developed quite fond of it. I was interested in earning web sites that many others could learn from and use freely.

What was your university encounter like in Afghanistan?

For the first two a long time, I was in a federal government school and afterward I researched in a private university for two several years. My male classmates in Afghanistan confronted me numerous occasions,  expressing that pc science was a career not meant for women, and that I required to choose for a profession “designed” for gals. I was bullied and discriminated against. They were not prepared to count me in their team. 

With all of that hardship, I did not produce. I did not reduce my hope and I required to go forward. I afterwards transferred to a private college, where by 50 % the pupils were being female.

I did not generate. I did not reduce my hope and I needed to go ahead.

There are a variety of road blocks versus female instruction in Afghanistan, together with deficiency of family and group guidance, universities that are significantly absent, and a lack of feminine instructors. Personally, I did have my family’s aid but I did not have the support of the standard modern society. 

A young woman stands in a doorway holding a laptop.

“I want to be a particular person who can support others,” Sofia stated. “I want to discover strategies to assistance people who really don’t realize or don’t have obtain to engineering.”

Photo: Andrew Oberstadt for the IRC

How did you evacuate from Afghanistan?

In August 2021, out of the blue the circumstance turned incredibly chaotic. Absolutely everyone panicked and was fearful for their life. 

In the closing days when I was leaving, anything was dire and individuals have been exceptionally nervous mainly because they were being attempting to depart. I was also nervous that the circumstance may possibly get even worse. No just one knew what was likely to take place to them.

When I arrived at the airport, I could not imagine so many men and women experienced currently arrive. I believed I might not be in a position to enter the airport, but after a large amount of struggles I was able to get on a flight.

My brother and I had been able to leave but our mother, who has arthritis, was not ready to make it to the airport in time. She now life in Kabul all on your own, with no just one to enable with her health care requirements. 

How has your practical experience in the U.S. been?

We came to the U.S. on September 6. My target was to appear in this article and just have a life. I think 80% of women who are in Kabul want the similar. They want independence, flexibility of wondering, flexibility of training. Their want is to arrive at what they are dreaming about.

The IRC has constantly, from my stage of watch, assisted absolutely everyone. When I initial arrived in this article I was treated pretty properly and all the questions I had have been answered.  For instance, they released us to multiple companies that helped us with simple necessities. They also helped us to relocate near to loved ones members. I want the IRC even additional good results in encouraging Afghans. I genuinely thank them since what they do is a large deal for us.

Two young women sit across from each other at a desk.

The IRC has been supporting Afghans like Sofia throughout the nation.

Picture: Andrew Oberstadt for the IRC

Once I arrived here, I assumed, ‘I obtained all I wanted and now I can get over any problems.’ It was a strange feeling to know I can achieve no matter what I have planned for.

What are your career objectives and goals?

I want to be a human being who can help others. I seriously like operating in networking and IT. I want to obtain methods to help all those who you should not comprehend or really don’t have obtain to know-how.

I also want to make a web site like Google, Fb and Instagram for the reason that these apps bring absolutely everyone alongside one another. Personal computer science can help introduce people to the planet and present them what is happening.

I want to make a web page like Google, Fb and Instagram mainly because these apps convey everybody alongside one another.

I am quite identified to reach my ambitions. I want to set up myself in the United States and ideally sponsor my mom to come right here.

What are your hopes for Afghanistan?

It was often my would like that peace be recognized in my region and ladies like me could reach all their wishes and desires. I really don’t want my state and its men and women to go backwards.

There are hundreds of ladies in Kabul like me who would like to examine, carry on their training, function in the area they pick out, be energetic in culture, and assist their fellow Afghans.

My own desire is to assist the men and women of Afghanistan so they can have improved lives. If I just one day satisfy a lady who is in Kabul and she has a great deal of desire in laptop science, I will explain to her to hardly ever lose hope and to not give up on her desires. There will be a working day when items will be ok and she will continue her training.

A young woman, with her back to the camera, sits at a desk and types on her laptop.

“My personalized dream is to support the people today of Afghanistan so they can have greater lives,” Sofia instructed the IRC.

Picture: Andrew Oberstadt for the IRC

What do you want the U.S. to know about Afghan refugees?

My message to the persons of the U.S. is to support the Afghans who have come listed here, for the reason that they have been in seriously bad condition when they left their state. Almost everything is new for them considering the fact that they have arrive to a quite distinctive location. And I thank People for supporting us so far. 

*Pseudonym made use of for protection

How you can help Afghan refugees 

The IRC works in 25 metropolitan areas across the state to welcome Afghans, Ukrainians and other refugees as they rebuild their lives in the U.S. Here’s how you can aid: 

Donate by signing up for a month-to-month present that will be made use of in which it is essential most. 

Understand how you can help a nearby IRC office in close proximity to you. 

Volunteer in a local business office or remotely. Opportunities contain getting ready new houses for refugee family members, mentoring someone as they restart their job and tutoring learners. 

Sponsor an Afghan family. Proven companies, this kind of as corporations, college communities, religion groups, sports groups or local golf equipment can develop into Afghan Placement and Assistance (APA) Local community Companions to help households get on their ft. 

Lease to a refugee. If you are a landlord, obtain out how you can rent to a refugee.