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“They were worried when I started going to war zones, but when I said I was going to Afghanistan they were really very concerned,” she says.
“They couldn’t understand why I would want to go back to a place they had taken me away from.”Hakim is an award-winning television journalist whose long walk out of Kabul, via Islamabad and her family’s new home in Australia, has taken in some of the biggest stories of the past five years.
Several newspapers picked up the story the following day.
But it was Hakim’s first assignment in Kabul five years ago, where she had an emotional reunion with her grandparents, that brought home the extent to which that night in 1983 changed the course of her life.
Hakim’s father called an architect friend of his who was still in Kabul, who called another architect – an Australian who was working in Denmark. “She wanted to help, but first called her husband, who said they couldn’t help everyone.
But she put in an application to host us anyway and three months later, Dad phoned her and said, you don’t know me but you’ve sponsored me to come to Australia and, well, I’m coming.”When the woman broke the news to her husband, he flew to Islamabad to meet the family.
To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer).Thirty years later, Hakim recalls a conversation she had with her parents as an adult, when she told them she planned to retrace those steps as a journalist.She has made the trip several times since, most recently to interview President Hamid Karzai.“When I was there and meeting young women about my age, who had never been to school, were married and had seven children and no prospects,” she says at Broadcasting House in Central London, “I thought, God, that could have been me.”Hakim’s parents grew up and met in a very different Afghanistan, before it was torn apart by conflict in the Cold War, and, later, the “war on terror”.Her father was a 31-year-old architect when he fled under the threat of conscription by the army. They had met 10 years earlier when, as a young tutor, Hakim taught maths to his future wife.“Their memories were very romanticised,” Yalda, now aged 30, recalls.
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Her mother worked as a midwife with a German charity at refugee camps.