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From Kabul to Dyami in Utrecht

Madina Shinwari is an intern at Dyami Strategic Intelligence Services.

During the fall of Afghanistan, she was in Kabul. This event changed a lot for her and everyone around her. And it also connected her with Dyami, she shares some of her personal insights.

Today is August 17 2023, Two years ago, marked a turning point for many of us, myself included. It brought a mix of profound sorrow and profound gratitude into my life.

Experiencing the fall of Afghanistan firsthand, made me realize that there are still so many people suffering from the consequences of choices made by leaders around the world. Despite having visited Afghanistan every year since my early childhood, the pervasive sense of instability that Afghans have endured throughout their lives struck me even more deeply on this day. Seeing people without documents or passports trying to flee, made me feel guilty and dirty about my passport. Why do I deserve to leave in this chaos, but they don’t?

Madina is a 17-year-old high school student in Baarn and a member of the UNICEF youth panel. At school, she is part of the student council and UNESCO workgroup in which they represent the voices of the students and organise diverse activities to contribute to the world around us. Being a part of the debate club at school made her participate in the national debate with NJR. There she debated with the secretary of state of health and had conversations with the Dutch minister of justice and security. Having parents who were born in Afghanistan, and a father working in Afghanistan at the intelligence service, it was mandatory for Madina to visit Afghanistan every year.

Two years ago, I found myself in the middle of Hamid Karzai airport, scared and not knowing what would happen to me, and all the other Afghans.

Seeing the Taliban in front, behind and next to me hitting people with missiles who were trying to flee, seeing bullets flying everywhere but not hearing them, made me feel like I was in another world and that it was all just a dream. It didn’t feel real. The only thing that we all felt during that moment, was sorrow. Seeing your country, your home, your place, being taken away from you, inflicts a pain that cuts deep. It was then that it truly hit me; Afghans have had to live like this for the last 45 years.

It made me realize that the government's approach in an emergency like this, must change. Things happened that weren’t supposed to happen, like a plane returning to the Netherlands without anyone in it. But still in this chaos, there were people trying everything they could to help Afghans leave the country, like Eric and Annick from Dyami. Dyami embarked on an extraordinary mission, sparing no effort to evacuate Afghans from their homeland. In the midst of relentless chaos, Dyami displayed unwavering dedication, maintaining a constant 24/7 connection with everyone involved. Their relentless pursuit of a solution led them to engage with individuals, carefully crafting routes that would go unnoticed by the eyes of the Taliban.

Against all odds, Dyami managed to orchestrate the evacuation of a significant number of individuals from Afghanistan. To make sure that they reached the airport so with the help of the military, and a small team from the embassy, the Dutch Air Force was able to return them back home. The success achieved is a testament to Dyami's exceptional crisis management skills. Their ability to remain resolute in this situation showcases what true crisis management entails. Dyami’s team can stand proud, knowing that their efforts during that critical time made an immeasurable difference in the lives of so many.

Fast forward to today, and I find myself sitting in Dyami’s office - a twist of fate that almost feels ironic. Two years ago, my interest in conflicts, terrorism and diplomacy grew even more. Dyami is the perfect place for me to extend my knowledge on these subjects and gain experience in practice, they offered me to do a mini-internship here. Having this chance as a 17-year-old is incredible. And Dyami looking at my passion, interests, and future goals, instead of my age, speaks volumes about their commitment to nurturing young talents and fostering a true learning environment. Age is just a number when it comes to pursuing dreams.

Kabul Evacuation 2021

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