Breshna Musazai Inspiring Student Turned Activist
Breshna, 29, was nearly killed by the Taliban in 2016 when she was
studying for her law degree in Kabul.
Breshna Musazai says she believes that to achieve peace in Afghanistan, powerful nations such as the US must put pressure on Kabul’s neighbours that support and fund terrorism to force them to stop.
Breshna, 29, was nearly killed by the Taliban in 2016 when she was studying for her law degree in Kabul.
In August that year, when she was about to leave a mosque on the university complex after evening prayers, an explosion went off and the Taliban shot their way into the compound. Students were screaming and trying to hide. Breshna tried to escape, but without shoes from prayers, she had to run barefoot over rubble with broken glass everywhere. When walking through the hallway, a man shot her in the leg.
The pain was agonising but she tried to play dead to make sure they didn’t shoot her again. But that didn’t stop the man, who fired another bullet into her foot on that same leg. The pain was excruciating, but Breshna continued to play dead, lying there motionless for five hours.
After getting treatment for a few weeks at a hospital in Kabul, her university sponsored her to get her remaining treatment at a hospital in Texas, US. Following a recovery after several months of treatment, Breshna’s fiancé, who travelled with her to the US, moved to Canada. But she refused to, because she felt she had a duty to come back to Afghanistan to educate people and spread her message.
Breshna defied all odds last year, when she graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the American University of Afghanistan. Paralysed by polio in one leg and shot by militants in the other, she had triumphed over the extremists. She has often been compared to Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban aged 15 and went on to receive the Nobel peace prize. Like Malala, Breshna will not be silenced and looks to educate people about their human rights.
Her mission now is to educate Afghanis and allow more young people in the country to go to school and become educated about the country’s complicated political picture. Afghanistan has high numbers of children without access to basic education. Unicef has estimated 3.7 million children are out-of-school in Afghanistan 60 per cent of them are girls. Also, many children are traumatised after an 18-year war between coalition forces and the Taliban. And the war has closed many schools, with at least 700 shutting last year as a result of the conflict and 3.8 million children needing humanitarian assistance.
Breshna has been working with several NGOs, most recently the Women’s Initiative to Strengthen and Empower, and delivering speeches to help educate young people about the dangers of the Taliban. Looking back, the young activist says she does not regret returning to Afghanistan, despite being advised against it. “I’ve always felt I had a responsibility as an Afghan citizen to do something for the people [in my country] who are in need. I really wanted to do something even before I got injured so when I came back, I realised that I made the right decision because many people were inspired.”