A stray bullet hit seven-year-old Maliha but she refused to give up on life and learning
25 JULY 2013 | KABUL, AFGHANISTAN
Maliha Nasrat was playing in the yard at home in Kabul when she was hit by a stray bullet. The seven-year-old had become yet another casualty of the civil war that raged in Afghanistan in the 1990s.
It took doctors months to find the bullet lodged in her brain. And it took Maliha two years in hospital to learn how to move. Years later, she still bears the physical scars of the incident. She cannot move all her fingers and has trouble walking.
But Maliha refused to give up. “When the Taliban left, I went back to school. I was one of the best students and I graduated from law school,” she says.
Her achievements initially didn’t mean much though. “Nobody would hire me. People laughed at me, saying ‘Look at you, you are so small and you’re disabled! You can’t work!’ It hurt a lot. But I knew they were wrong.”
Things started to look up after she enrolled in USAID’s Women in Government program, which offers internships to university graduates in four provinces. Nearly 450 women have enrolled in the program in the last three years and 70% of them are in full-time public or private sector jobs.
Maliha spent six months at the Afghan Supreme Court after which she took a job in its database department. She also serves as a legal advisor at the Afghanistan Landmine Organization.
At the program’s recent graduation ceremony in Kabul, a proud Maliha joined 59 other young women and said the internship gave her the chance that the stray bullet might have taken away.
“This is all what I ever dreamt about, having a job. Women too can work, we are capable, we just need a chance,” she said.
Last updated: May 15, 2014