Hi! My name is Mooniba and I am an Afghan-American currently living in Pennsylvania. I am a 3rd year pharmacy student and chose this career particularly because I wanted to do something to give back to the community and aid all those in need— especially Afghanistan. My people are broken at the seams, desperate for advanced medical aid. I feel as if pharmacy is a great route because there is so much you can do with the power of medicine.
I was originally born in Afghanistan around the time when circumstances in Afghanistan were getting critical due to the war. My family and I moved to Pakistan when I was around four years old. My few scattered memories from that age were happy ones – I remember running around with cousins, messing with my aunt’s makeup, and laughing with family since a lot of them had come to Pakistan as well.
It was very hard for my parents to take care of 5 kids in a brand new country. They did not know a single word of English and they always told us how difficult those early years were.
My dad was able to sponsor us to come to America since the war was still going on in Afghanistan. We came here when I was 6 years old. It was very hard for my parents to take care of 5 kids in a brand new country. They did not know a single word of English and they always told us how difficult those early years were.
It was during this time that Mobina, my older sister and the eldest in the family, stepped up. Even though she was only four years older than me, she was the glue that held my family together (…aw man, she’s going to get such a big head now after reading that). She would be there for any doctor’s appointments, help my parents out with understanding the bills and take care of my other siblings and I. She was just ten years old when we came to America and didn’t know English either. She was just placed in fifth grade and learning to maneuver her way through American schooling. Despite that, she would come with us to the doctor’s and use any means of communication to get the message across (sometimes this meant doing a combination of sign language and broken English). We’d always find her studying day and night to learn English. She was the most helpful to my parents and even though no one ever forced her to, she always wanted to help. Even as she got older, she was a huge part of our household running and always thinking of how she could be of assistance to others. If it wasn’t for her, I feel as though my parents would not have been able to get to everyone and everything. Even in my adulthood, she was the first person in our family to go to college in the medical field which was always inspirational for me and played a huge part in my own education and career choice.
She was just placed in fifth grade and learning to maneuver her way through American schooling. Despite that, she would come with us to the doctor’s and use any means of communication to get the message across (sometimes this meant doing a combination of sign language and broken English).
Naturally, my mother was a huge influence in my life as well. She didn’t know English when she came here, so she went to classes which would teach her. She balanced household chores and family life even if it was very hard at times. It was only when we got much older did she give herself more time and did things for herself. She ended up passing her citizenship test (she studied 10 hours a day for it sometimes) and even got her own license years later. She would always tell us, “Just because I don’t know this language doesn’t mean I can’t do anything I want to,” and she was right.
My great aunt, Hajji Khala, is one of the most inspirational and influential people to meet. She is the most giving person I know and has devoted her life to helping orphans in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Hajji Khala lived in Pakistan for a few years while the Taliban were in Afghanistan. While she was in Peshawar, Pakistan, she built one orphanage there and it was flooded with children who needed help. The government, friends and family all funded her orphanage and it was a huge success. She loved helping others, and so she decided she wanted to do something similar for the orphans back in Afghanistan as well and ended up building two more, one in Kabul and the second in Faryab.
My great aunt, Hajji Khala, is one of the most inspirational and influential people to meet. She is the most giving person I know and has devoted her life to helping orphans in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
My great aunt says seeing the looks on these kids faces is all she needs to keep going. Most of these children are orphans, or have just lost their father, the only breadwinner of the family. Some claim their fathers ran away or became a drug addict or worse. These kids lost the person who is essentially supposed to take care of their needs and be the head of the family. When these kids see that they have an opportunity to receive an education, they stop thinking about their troubles, even if it is temporarily. The sadness and trauma they have endured washes away and they focus on distractions such as education and other children. The orphanages also provide food for each of it’s 500 kids (in each school) for free. The reason my Hajji Khala has set up for free education and free food is because she knows if she offers free food two times a day, kids will be more likely to show up and learn. And it works. For most kids, the meal they receive at school is their only meal for the day. Most of their families are struggling to get by and so they know by coming to the school, they can get a free meal as well as the most crucial thing to one— an education.
My sister, mom, and great aunt have all inspired to give back – whether it be fiscally, through my career, or through my prayers. I feel as though these women have shaped who I am, as well as my career to pursue pharmacy and my goal to help people just as much as they all have. My Hajji Khala has always asked us why we don’t give more to people, as we all have a purpose in this life to do something in someway to help one human being to another. I thought about this ideology a lot and it made me realize just how much we have, as well as just how much we can help.