I’m from Kabul originally, from the centre of the city. Things were good when I was growing up. People had access to education, to health, higher education - the University was good. At that time Afghanistan was really improving. But when the mujahideen came, I think I was nineteen at the time, everything was destroyed, starting a series of wars. It was very dangerous. Fighting in every street, physical fighting. And also rockets. It stopped me from ever going to university, I just had to survive, and almost didn’t. Rockets hit the workshop I was working in at the time (I was repairing water pumps), one landed just three metres from me, I don’t understand how, but I survived. Eleven other people didn’t. But the biggest scars people have from that time are psychological. The sound of shooting stays with you. Even to this day. I suppose that’s my ‘gift’ from the mujahideen.
I first worked for CiC as a security guard, protecting our work at Allauddin orphanage. It had been badly hit during fighting and we were rehabilitating it to take in orphans from other orphanages and the city streets. I worked one day on, one day off. On my free days I volunteered to help out with a very secret project we were running at the time called home-based schools. The Taliban were now in power at this time. Women were not allowed to work and girls were not allowed to learn – but this project recruited women who could teach girls from within their own homes. I would deliver stationery on my bicycle to one of the centres. I never knew how many we had in total, the education manager kept it very secret. I don’t think any of the schools were ever discovered, I never heard that they were.