DENVER — One week after a U.S. military C-17 carried the last American troops out of Kabul, Afghans and foreign nationals who were unable to leave the country are getting used to a new way of life under Taliban rule.
For 19-year-old Sidra, who chose to not reveal her last name because of fear of retaliation, the word "home" doesn’t hold much meaning anymore. Her family members, who live in Colorado, tried to get her out of the country but the situation on the ground, especially surrounding the airport, made it difficult.
"I feel like a stranger in my land. Can you believe it?" she said.
When she was born, the Taliban didn’t rule Afghanistan. She was going school, working at a bookstore, and was an artist but everything changed the day the Taliban closed in on Kabul.
"My other friends were sobbing because they were losing their jobs and my boss he came in a haste and he told us that it is time for you guys to just leave this place right now and we were like, 'Why?' and he said, 'It is going to be dangerous for you guys, so do it as fast as you can,'" Sidra said.
In a matter of hours, the life she fought for no longer existed.
"The situation is getting more hard," she said.
She said the first day the Taliban came to Kabul, she tried to get to the airport, but was scared and ended up staying home.
For the last two weeks, that’s where she’s stayed. The one time she left her home, she said men on the street stared at her and made her feel uncomfortable.
"Strange, oppressed, and unrecognized. This is what I am in Afghanistan and I don’t want to be like this anymore," Sidra said.
With no clear path forward, all Sidra can do is wait for the right opportunity to escape.
"I can’t find it easy to get out of the country anymore. For example, if we just wait for someone to support us from other countries, how many months should we wait?" said Sidra.
At just 19 years old and in the face of danger, she said she won’t stop fighting for the life she once had, even if it means leaving the only country she’s ever known.