‘I think they will be remembered as the sacrifice of the new generation of Afghanistan against terrorism” These were the words written by a RadioFree Afghanistan Presenter about the Kabul University attack.
Yet another dark cloud dawned in Afghanistan on the 2nd of November 2020. This time around, the targets were university students in Kabul. 22 lives were lost that day, 16 students and 6 staff, all of whom, upon waking up that fateful day, never expected the sudden turn of events. The classrooms are still riddled with holes from the bullets sprayed across the walls by the assailants like a story imprinted never to be forgotten. The once-promising students who hoped to one day change the community were taken too soon, their families left confused as to why innocence was seen as a crime punishable by death.
Mohamad Rahed was one of the promising young students who lost their lives that day. He was a 22-year-old studying Policy and Public Administration with the hopes to one day become a politician in his country. His hope for change within the community became clear when he chose to teach English at a local institution during his free time from studying at the university. Friends and family referred to him as a role model and star pupil in interviews following his death.
In October 2020, Rahed registered for the Global Citizenship Foundation’s Youth Design Lab for Peace that was aimed at building the capacity of young people to advance the Prevention of Violent Extremism in Afghanistan. He, along with 20 other Afghan youth leaders, made the commitment to attend the six-week program, which empowers youth towards positive community change. The focus was on allowing the youth participants to develop their own projects that could positively impact their community. The project borrows from the United Nations Sustainable Development goal 4.7 to promote the advancement of knowledge and skills needed to promote all-around sustainable development covering human rights, lifestyle, culture, gender equality, and peace. It was also inspired by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250 (2015), which focuses on youth participation, protection, prevention, partnerships, and disengagement and reintegration. It gives the youth an opportunity to voice out their opinions regarding the decision-making process locally, nationally, and internationally. Similar to Rahed’s goal, the Youth Design Lab aimed to create young changemakers in the community.
Unfortunately, on the day of the first lab, Kabul University came under attack. The session was somber, the participants who earlier that day had the highest of expectations, eager to learn, were now left disheartened. There was one less changemaker, one less peacebuilder, and at least a dozen more unable to attend the session due to injuries sustained from the attack. The emotional impact on the cohort only fueled the need for change, the purpose to Prevent Violent Extremism was now more of a motivation than before to honor the memory of Rahed as well as all those who lost friends and families and those unable to join due to injuries to these acts of violence.“I hope he is the last victim. May God protect the other young students,” Rahed’s father told Radio Free Afghanistan. In December 2020, the cohort graduated after completing the Youth Design Lab. The dreams the assailants thought they had cut short in November 2020 were taken by others in honor of those who no longer could. Looking back at a tweet sent previously by Rahed you can almost tell he knew exactly what to say to motivate his peers.
Always remember to smile even in the face of adversity.
– Mohamad Rahed