I wanted to share a story from the Korean Hospital a few weeks ago.
Two girls ages 10 and 6 walked into the internal medicine office unaccompanied. The internal medicine doctor, an Afghan interpreter and I were in the office. The older sister had come back for an follow up appointment for an ear infection and it turns out, the little girls were brough by their older brother who chose to wait in the hall. The older sister was a beautiful little girl wearing a shimmering pink and silver scarf, with a black sheer outfit with multicolored sequins underneath the sheer. When the interpreter asked if the girls go to school the older girl replied no, their mother and father forbide it.
I asked if the girls wanted to go to school, but the response was a matter-of-fact no. I then asked the older girl, what would she like to be when she grows up, what would she like to do? She said she wanted to be a tailor. I couldn't help by find her response baffling. This little girl did have aspirations for herself, she did want to obtain a working profession and by extension some semblance of independence. But at the same time, education was somehow not connected to her future, it was not seen as a necessary aspect to her success and development.
When I asked these questions, the older girl looked curiously as me like I was a friendly alien. It was obvious she found my questions odd and she couldn't understand their purpose. It was so hard to sit there and stay quiet, to not draw the sisters close and implore them to fight for their education. The benefits to working at the Korean Hospital is the portal it provides into Afghan life. The major drawback is interacting with these women and girls and having such little ability to change their lives.