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January's Portrait | Khadija (Afghanistan)

This is the story of Khadija.

This is Khadija, happily climbing during one of our bouldering activity at Planet Climbing Geneva. Planet Climbing is our loyal partner since 2021.

Three months after the Talibans came to power in 2021, Khadija fled her country of origin; country of all her landmarks, where she was studing economics & management, in a university delivering her courses in English; country where her whole family lives; where she loved spending time with her family and friends. She loved rock climbing and nature walks; before she started her day, she would walk with her mother at dawn; at this time, there was no crowd on the street of Char Rahi Qambar, Kabul. “On the way returning back home, the the sun was rising from behind the TV mountains of Kabul. It was such a nice and peaceful moment.” The Talibans snatched those moments and her whole life. But Khadija is dynamic and outspoken, determined and motivated to fight for her freedom; brilliant, she will find a matter of hope to her dismay.

She got the news of the Talibans' arrival on a Sunday morning, when she was at work. “It was scary as death.” She did not know what will happen next, and was just reviewing what the Talibans did over the past 20 years, especially in 1996. “It was not easy to live with murders of your friends, teachers and your fellow people.” She had no other choice except to search for a way out.

Roday, Khadija, meanwhile, decided to continue her studies, whatever the cost: for her, the voice of women and her fight for more equality above all would be through the access to studies; the salvation and independence of Afghan women. She will fight with intelligence: Khadija contacted an international association and found a study exchange program, as well as a possible scholarship for students: she applied. The application went successful, which allowed her to acquire the student permit in Switzerland, since the University of Geneva would offer her the chance to pursue studies in economics & business management. A generous donator will become her sponsor, and will finance this scholarship.

To define yourself as refugee is not as simple as some people perceive it; to be welcomed in a new country. But it is about a start from scratch with so much of difficulties, while you are carrying the fear, traumas, and your shattered dreams. Every single day you have to make your way through a new life with a new concept.” Khadija is now taking up the challenge of learning French in order to integrate her new country, Switzerland, and become even more successful with her studies: in addition to economics, she took the French language courses of the Academic Horizon program (15 hours per week), including intensive courses. Integration goes through language, studies, but also through social and associative life: Khadija participated at some of our bouldering activities at Peaks4All. Planet Climbing Geneva is our generous partner since 2021, and thanks to them, Khadija can climb at no costs, and continue to live her passion.

A whole other fantastic and unique story happened to Khadija in this context, demonstrating the beauty of human connection when it is pure and driven by feelings of togetherness. Indeed, Khadija was able to support a person in need, in return: a young Swiss woman. Jérémie G. is the volunteer guide who led 7 refugees from Peaks4All to the summit of Bishorn (4153m) last August 2022. He comes from the region of Lausanne in Switzerland; he is a passionate young guide, generous and humble. Her little sister is disabled and cannot meet her needs alone: ​​her family wanted to allow a refugee woman to find work, and establish a bond of trust between their daughter and this woman. Khadija was able to help Anne. Khadija has been taking care of her since last summer, in her free times. Moments of grace were created, a fabulous bond was established.

"I don't believe in charity. I believe in solidarity. Charity is so vertical. It goes from the top to the bottom. Solidarity is horizontal. It respects the other person. I have a lot to learn from other people". Eduardo Galeano Thank you Khadija for sharing your resilience and solidarity's story.

Next month, we'll share the story of Soran from Iran, who had to flee for political reasons. He used to train the national Iranian athletism team in his home country and finds energy through sports and collaboration. Laetitia Lam

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