Don’t Look Away

In late summer, as American troops quickly left Afghanistan after more than 20 years of occupation, people watched closely the crush of refugees fleeing as the Taliban took over just as quickly. It’s up to us to keep watching.

Afghanistan refugees arriving at Dulles Airport 9/3/21. Photo courtesy AP

Image courtesy Associated Press
Words by Lauren Loftus


“I grew up … in a peaceful Afghanistan where children could have a happy childhood. I certainly had one,” Khaled Hosseini ’88 tells WBUR, Boston’s public radio station.

The SCU biology grad and renowned author, whose family came to America as refugees seeking asylum in 1980, aims to capture some of that idyllic setting in his novels The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. It’s a childhood that, as he says, is hard to imagine now.

Decades of war have made Afghanistan a darker place, where joy is hard to see. Even moreso today as American troops have left after 20 years—the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks sent U.S. soldiers there, after nearly 3,000 died and so much changed here at home. After all those years fighting, the oppressive Taliban reclaimed control in less than 20 days.

Look closer, though, and you might spot joy on the faces of kids playing on a playground in Kabul, or in a little girl—now a refugee like Hosseini—arriving at Dulles Airport, outside our nation’s capital, with a bright red pants leg pulled over her knee, a slight smile shining.

Everyone looked at Afghanistan in the moment, as refugees clamored to flee their home, Hosseini says, but “the world will inevitably turn to some other corner, and some other crisis will come up.” It’s our duty to not look away.

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