Mahboba Rawi hardly sleeps these days, but is instead concerned about the “thousand children” in charge of her charity Mahboba’s Promise in Afghanistan.
During a phone call from Sydney early Wednesday morning, she reached an employee of one of the four orphanages her organization runs in Afghanistan. The staffer told her that people are afraid now that the Taliban are in control.
“I feel terrified of my children. I am the mother of a thousand children. I am concerned about their safety and security and I am concerned about what may happen to my work in the future,” Rawi said after the call.
Rawi, now 52, fled Afghanistan in the 1980s after Russia invaded the country and reached Australia in 1984 as an 18-year-old. In 1992, she lost a 6-year-old son in a drowning accident and pledged to work to save children.
Mahboba’s Promise was the result. In addition to the four orphanages, her group also runs a medical clinic and five schools for children and widows in Afghanistan.
The rapid conquest of Afghanistan by the Taliban, following US President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw US troops after 20 years of war, has raised questions about the future of her work.
Many Afghans fear that the Taliban will return to past harsh practices. During their 1996-2001 rule, women were not allowed to work and punishments such as stoning, whipping and hanging were common.
“I work very, very hard and I want to continue my work until the day I die, and hopefully they (the Taliban) will respect that,” Rawi said.
While the Taliban have a moderate face, promise no retaliation against opponents and respect for the rights of women, minorities and foreigners, many Afghans are skeptical and still fear roundups by old enemies and activists.
The situation is “not normal,” her staff member at the orphanage told Rawi. “All shops, supermarkets … are closed at the moment and people are very concerned and do not believe the Taliban,” he said in English during a WhatsApp call.
As the fighting got worse and the Taliban advanced, Rawi had to move children from one orphanage to another to keep them safe.
“I want the Taliban to respect what I’ve done and what I’ve done is what our prophet told us to do – take care of widows and orphans,” she said.
(This story was not edited by NewsMadura staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)