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Zoya's Story

by John Follain Rita Cristofari

Kabul was always more beautiful in the snow. Even the piles of rotting rubbish in my street, the only source of food for the scrawny chickens and goats that our neighbors kept outside their mud houses, looked beautiful to me after the snow had covered them in white during the long night. Though she is only twenty-three, Zoya has witnessed and endured more tragedy and terror than most people experience in a lifetime. Born in a land ravaged by war, she was robbed of her parents when they were murdered by Muslim fundamentalists. Devastated, she fled Kabul with her grandmother and started a new life in exile in Pakistan. She joined the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), an organization that challenged the crushing edicts of the Taliban government, and she took destiny into her own hands, joining a dangerous, clandestine war to save her nation. Direct and unsentimental, Zoya vividly brings to life the realities of growing up in a Muslim culture, the terror of living in a perpetual war zone, the pain of losing those she has loved, the horrors of a woman's life under the Taliban, and the discovered healing and transformation that lead her on a path of resistance.

Zoya's Story: An Afghan Woman's Struggle for Freedom

by Zoya John Follain Rita Cristofari

Zoya's Story is a young woman's searing account of her clandestine war of resistance against the Taliban and religious fanaticism at the risk of her own life. An epic tale of fear and suffering, courage and hope, Zoya's Story is a powerful testament to the ongoing battle to claim human rights for the women of Afghanistan. Though she is only twenty-three, Zoya has witnessed and endured more tragedy and terror than most people do in a lifetime. Zoya grew up during the wars that ravaged Afghanistan and was robbed of her mother and father when they were murdered by Muslim fundamentalists. Devastated by so much death and destruction, she fled Kabul with her grandmother and started a new life in exile in Pakistan. She joined the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, which challenged the crushing edicts of the Taliban government, and she made dangerous journeys back to her homeland to help the women oppressed by a system that forced them to wear the stifling burqa, condoned public stoning or whipping if they ventured out without a male chaperon, and forbade them from working. Zoya is our guide, our witness to the horrors perpetrated by the Taliban and the Mujahideen "holy warriors" who had defeated the Russian occupiers. She helped to secretly film a public cutting of hands in a Kabul stadium and to organize covert literacy classes, as schooling-branded a "gateway to Hell" -- was forbidden to girls. At an Afghan refugee camp she heard tales of heartrending suffering and worked to provide a future for families who had lost everything. The spotlight focused on Afghanistan after the New York and Washington terrorist attacks highlights the conditions of repression and fear in which Afghan women live and makes Zoya's Story utterly compelling. This is a memoir that speaks louder than the images of devastation and outrage; it is a moving message of optimism as Zoya struggles to bring the plight of Afghan women to the world's attention.

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