Mursal Mohammadi: Story Of An Afghan Refugee Living In India

Mursal Mohammadi talks about what it means to be a refugee, her time in Afghanistan, pain of leaving her homeland, why she chose education over everything, and why deprivation of visibility of young girls poses a major threat to gender equality globally. 

Bhana Bisht
04 Jul 2023 Updated On Aug 30, 2023 15:54 IST
Mursal Mohammadi

Mursal Mohammadi

Mursal Mohammadi did not just grow up in a war-torn state; she also faced multiple challenges for just being a girl. Mohammadi, who now resides in India, didn't have it easy in her homeland, but what made her strong enough to keep dreaming was her parents' undeterred support at a time when families in Afghanistan were suppressing their own female members.  

In an interview with SheThePeople, Mursal Mohammadi talks about what it means to be a refugee, her time in Afghanistan, the pain of leaving her homeland, why she chose education over everything, and why the deprivation of visibility of young girls poses a major threat to gender equality globally. 

Mursal Mohammadi Story

Mohammadi was born in 1998 in Kabul, Afghanistan. At a time when millions of Afghan girls weren’t allowed to go to school, she was lucky enough to have access to education. While her mother, who couldn’t finish her schooling, fought for her kids equally, the family couldn’t escape the atrocities of the war-torn country, which also oppressed its women to no end.


"I recall how one day, during my teens, I was studying for an exam. It was a regular day; my mom woke up to prepare breakfast. We heard the devastating news of a bomb explosion that happened at Wazir Akbar Khan, a place where my brother and sister were working," she recalls. Mohammadi can still picture the scene of her helpless family sobbing, waiting to hear about her siblings; they later found that her siblings were severely injured and were moved to a hospital.

It wasn’t just war; receiving threats just because they were women trying to access basic rights had become a norm. That was the time when Mursal Mohammadi's family decided to leave the country.

"Leaving one’s country is never easy. Deciding to become refugees in another country was tough, but we knew going anywhere was safer and better than staying back."


On Oct 7, 2017, the family landed in India as Afghan refugees. There were immense challenges while rebuilding their lives here. Mohammadi was introduced to the refugee centre, where refugees were taught various languages. She eventually became a youth leader and led over 200 refugee youngsters. However, what stayed on top of her head was getting was grabbing an opportunity to study. She continues, "Meanwhile, I wanted to continue my education. I found a refugee who was already at University; he guided me and I was finally at DU. I started divulging in photography assignments to emote what I felt about my identity and gender."

I am now a visual storyteller and UN India youth advocate. I grew up listening to my grandma's and mom's stories, which shaped my ideology about what I needed to change for myself, something they never got a chance to do. I show stories of resilience today; whether it was resilience I once saw in my aunt, who was brutally beaten on expressing her wish to go out or strength I saw in my mom when she left her homeland.

Mohammadi had a home in Afghanistan but she found belongingness in India. At a time when the Taliban has banned the rights of women, she is an example of what happens when women are given a chance to thrive.


You’ve come a long way from Afghanistan. What factors have impacted your journey most in making a solid identity of your own today?

Access to education was the pivotal factor in my journey, shaping my identity and empowering me to overcome obstacles. The reopening of schools for girls and young women in Afghanistan during the early 2000s was a turning point in my life, providing me with the opportunity to attend school. Certainly, the privilege of education played a vital role in defining who I am today. 

How can resettlement countries ensure the path to education is smooth for refugees?


Resettlement countries play a crucial role in ensuring a smooth path to education for refugees. To achieve this, they can implement several measures:

Firstly, it is important for resettlement countries to include refugee children in their national education systems. By offering opportunities for enrollment in primary, secondary, and tertiary education institutions, they can ensure that refugees have equal access to education.

Secondly, providing scholarships and financial support specifically tailored for refugee students can significantly reduce the financial barriers they may face. This support can enable them to pursue their educational goals without the burden of excessive financial constraints.


Thirdly, language and cultural support are vital for refugees to integrate effectively into their new educational environments. Resettlement countries can provide language training programs and cultural orientation initiatives to help refugees adapt to their new surroundings and overcome language barriers.

These measures can create an environment where refugees have a smooth and inclusive path to education, empowering them to rebuild their lives and contribute to their new communities.

At a time when the Taliban banned women in Afghanistan from almost all public spaces, the road to bringing back the rights of these women has become tougher. What would you say about the state of young girls being deprived of basic visibility there?


The deprivation of basic visibility for young girls in Afghanistan is a grave concern, posing a significant setback for gender equality and women's rights globally. Denying girls the right to education limits their personal growth, empowerment, and ability to contribute to society. Education is vital in promoting gender equality, enabling girls to develop their talents, acquire knowledge, and build essential skills for their future success.

It is imperative for the international community to collaborate and advocate for the rights of Afghan girls and women, ensuring their access to education, healthcare, and full participation in society. This issue is a huge concern to the life of women in Afghanistan and women's empowerment globally. If we do not act now this will have a long-lasting impact on the life of future generations.

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