Photos of woman graduating from college go viral and inspire a beleaguered nation

Photos of woman graduating from college go viral and inspire a beleaguered nation

When 28-year-old Breshna Musazai walked on to the dais last month with the help of her mechanical walker to accept a college degree, she was already making strides into Afghanistan’s history.  Her limp, the result of polio in her right leg that she contracted as a kid and injuries in the left leg that she suffered during an attack on her university, didn’t seem to slow her down. Musazai, a student of law, was among the many students who were caught in an attack on the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) in Kabul on the evening of August 24, 2016. Thirteen students and staff members lost their lives when the war-torn country’s prestigious education center came under heavy attack from the Taliban. Several other students like Musazai were severely injured in the attack that lasted for more than seven hours.

“Can I tell it in short? Because when I talk about it … ” Musazai’s voice trailed off, and she had a distant look on her face, as though she was someplace else, and not in the living room of the Kabul home that she shares with her parents and seven siblings.

“I was in the campus mosque and had just finished my prayers. I was about to step out when my friend and I heard loud gunfires,” Musazai, recalling the horrifying events from nearly two years ago, told Women in the World. “My friend reacted first, she immediately shut the door. In that moment we heard a loud blast. I found myself on the floor of the mosque, it went dark,” she said, narrating the sequence of traumatic events that followed on that fateful day.

Musazai was slowed down due to her polio leg, even as many other students who were with her ran to the nearest emergency exit. “I was left behind and as I tried to find my way out through the building close to the mosque, I had to walk barefoot on shattered glass and splinters,” she said. Her goal at that moment was to make it off the campus without being noticed by the gunmen unleashing the bloody siege. With all hell breaking loose around her, Musazai managed to reach her fiancé by phone and he advised her to find a place to hide rather than try to escape.

“I came across other students who were trying to find a safe place to hide,” she said. “Many of them were injured,” Musazai said their next move was to try to break into the administrative office in the hopes of finding a safe hiding spot. “While we were trying to get inside the room, the girls who were with me turned towards me and were looking at something behind me with an expression of shock. That’s when I turned around and I saw him, the gunman. But before I could even react, he had shot me.”

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