Escaping the Taliban

Escaping the Taliban

Monash Life | Geopolitical security | 2 minute read

Parisa Sekandari was at Herat University in West Afghanistan when her country fell to the Taliban in August 2021, turning her world upside down.

But thanks to Monash’s strong relationship with 11 Afghan scholars, representatives from the University were able to help Sekandari and the other scholars find a safe haven in Melbourne, where they are pursuing their studies at Monash.

“A colleague told me Monash was trying to get us Australian visas,” says Sekandari. “I took the 24-hour bus ride to Kabul alone, my passport and phone hidden within my chador. The airport was chaos. To enter, we split into groups; my four male colleagues and I pretended we were family.

After three days standing, we flew to a camp in Dubai. Or my body did. My soul was left behind.”

After finally arriving in Melbourne, Sekandari went directly to a gathering hosted by Monash Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Sharon Pickering and Professor Jacquie True, Director of the Monash University Centre for Gender, Peace and Security. “There were flowers. Afghani food. I felt supported,” she says. From her Monash base, Sekandari has continued her advocacy work with female academics in Afghanistan.

"I am lucky. I had connections. Many who fled are in danger of being exploited. Thousands of students still in Afghanistan are denied access to education. I want to help give them a voice – a future.”

Map of Afghanistan
Podcast: What happens next?

Escape from the Taliban

Listen to the story of the Afghan scholars who fled their home country after the fall of Kabul with the help of academics and organisers from Monash University.

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