I am Shakiba, and I am a resilient woman because... 

I am Shakiba, I came to the USA in 2016 from Afghanistan.

How long have you been living in this area? Please share with us about your journey coming here. I moved to the USA in 2016, so I have been here for 3 years. I was working at a US company in Afghanistan as an engineer. Back home, women do not do these types of jobs. A group of Taliban wanted me to not work there anymore since I was a woman, and I am supposed to stay home and take care of the children. I did not give up and continued to work there. But then I came to the USA for a conference, and while I was here I was targeted back in my home country. The people that targeted me told me that they would kill me if I go back home. I decided to stay here for the safety of myself and my family. Then I was in a detention center for 3 months and applied for asylum and got it without a lawyer.  After 8 months, I was finally able to call my family and tell them I am safe.

As you know, we are doing a feature series about resilient women. What type of challenges in your life contributed to you becoming a resilient woman? The challenges that contributed to me becoming a resilient woman is when I was alone here in the USA with none of my family. Living in a detention center. Leaving my 2-month baby that I was breastfeeding, and I wasn’t able to see my family. That made me stronger. Whenever I was sad, I kept telling myself that I am strong, and I can do this. I had to be stronger for myself and my family back home.

What do you love most about Mother Africa? What motivates you to be a part of Mother Africa events and activities? Mother Africa works with women. When I was back home, I spent 10 years doing social work with women. Mother Africa also does the same thing, so I like that a lot.

What is your hope for the future of Mother Africa, yourself and your fellow resilient women? In February this year I also started working as a screener for the new Flourishing Resilient Children (F&RC) Program with Mother Africa for the Afghanistan families. We do early childhood developmental screening to help the parents see how their children are doing with different milestones depending on their age, so that we can support their growth. Our community is very happy with this program. I hope to continue to work with Mother Afric, and I am happy that they are working with our Afghani women too. We have no other organization working with us like this.  Whenever I am at Mother Africa, I am very happy.

Interview conducted by Mother Africa Program Assistant, Florette Ebengho