When you think of the life of a teenage girl, what comes to mind? Going to high school during the week? Having best friends that you do everything with? Worrying about what dress you will wear to prom? Getting your driver’s license? Imagine the opposite. Imagine having to drop everything and go to a new country by yourself at 15, a country that speaks a different language. Imagine having to balance not only high school but having to work to pay for everything: your food, your clothes. Imagine having to live in a home in which you must watch several kids, cook all the meals, and clean the house every day. Imaging to have to pay for your family’s life halfway across the world: for their rent, their food, their medical expenses. Imagine having to this by yourself- at 15 years old.

Although “nameless” for the sake of anonymity, let her powerful story speak for itself.

T grew up in Afghanistan with her mom and two sisters. She had her family and friends, her life, and her education. The Afghan government was still in place at that time, but it would soon be taken over.   

The day the Taliban, a terrorist group, took over the Afghan government, T and her family rushed to the airport hoping to escape their country. She spent around 8 days there without food and water trying to find a way out. The Taliban was at the airport, causing chaos. She watched people fall to their death as they attempted to escape by holding onto the outside of planes that were taking off. T’s mom was beaten and sprayed with pepper spray, which caused her to pass out. Her sisters were screaming. “Look, the Taliban is hitting my mom,” T said to the American soldiers, trying to find help. The soldiers replied and told her that her mom would be taken care of, and that T was to follow them into the airport. The soldier went back to look for her mom, but she was nowhere to be found. They then told T that she had one of two options: she could either stay inside the airport and hope that her mom had also made it inside, or she could go back outside and look for her, but she would not be allowed back in the airport. T chose to stay and prayed that her mom somehow had made it inside.

T went through the whole process of getting on a flight all on her own, all she had with her was a few documents in her pocket as well as her mom’s phone number. She got on the plane, no sight of her mom anywhere. She had officially fled her country. She spent 2 days in Qatar after this and was determined to find her mom, still unable to be found. 

After leaving Qatar, still an unaccompanied minor, T arrived in Chicago and was put in a shelter. She was there for 2 months. She was asked if she had any other family in the US. She had an uncle, her mother’s brother, living in the States. He said he would take her in and promised her that she would be taken care of, that she would be provided for and put into school. She arrived at her uncle’s home, and it was clear that had made false promises. Her uncle soon realized that he wasn’t going to get any benefits from the American government for taking in T and told her that keeping her in his house is expensive. “I didn’t get any money to help take care of you, so why should I have to pay for anything of yours?” He said he might send her back to the shelter.

Living in America with her uncle has been hard. T is expected to cook for the whole family. She must purchase her own food; she is not allowed to eat her family’s food. After preparing meals, she is expected to leave her family to eat and go to her room. “Follow the rules, or get out of my house,” T’s uncle tells her. She also must clean the house and has a list of chores every day. She must babysit her younger cousins. “Watch my kids or get out,” her uncle says. It got to the point where Child Protective Services recently got involved but did not do anything as T is almost 18. As soon as she turns 18, she has plans to move out of her uncle’s home into a much safer living situation.

On top of her home life, T also has to take care of her immediate family, who is in Pakistan currently. Soon after T left Afghanistan, her mom and sisters went underground as they were in danger. They escaped to Pakistan with nothing- not even any documents. Her mom has had health scares since, including a heart attack right after arriving to Pakistan. “I am paying for my family, for the rent of their house, for their food, for my mom’s health.” At 17 years old now, T sends $500 dollars to her family every month. Some months she doesn’t even earn that much money.

T just finished her junior year of high school. “Junior year is already hard for high school students because there are so many different milestones,” she says, “but it was hard for me. I had a lot going on. I had my immigration, everything going on at home, as well as trying to pass my classes. Here I have a different life than every other teenager. I am trying to find jobs. I must pay for things on my own. I must send money home every month. Sometimes I don’t even make that much money, but God has provided ways where I can still send it.” She says, “At home, I have one world. Then, at school, I have another world. At work I have another world. I don’t have that much time for myself.”

 T has only been in the States for 2 years. In those 2 years she says that it felt like 200 years with everything that she has been through. At 17 years old, she has had to learn resiliency, how to be strong, how to have hope. She has had to mature so much faster than most people her age. She is so motivated to create a better life for herself. “I am glad I am here. I don’t care how hard it has been; how hard these 2 years have been. I have a good future here. I can go to school here. Once I am done with high school, I can do whatever I want. I can start my own business, I can go to college, whatever I want!” Her plan it to graduate high school next year. “I want to study to either be a pilot, a dentist, or to work in IT. Whichever one I can get a scholarship for.”

T is so driven to succeed. She is currently working on getting her driver’s license. She is working hard to send money home so she can soon be reunited with her family. “I am always missing my mom. I am always missing my sisters,” she says, “I need more money to send home. If I can get help with that, I can start saving for a car. Once I have a car, I will be able to get a better job.” T is unbelievable and she is such a blessing to this world.

“It’s been two years and I have now gotten used to telling people my story- It’s a long story. It’s hard to tell”

Nameless is honored to support this amazing young woman and release the “T” bag, a bag in which all the proceeds will be given to T to support her family and put money towards her car. T explained how it has taken her a long time to learn to ask for help, no matter how much she needs it. We hope that sharing her story will inspire others. Stories like these need to be shared to the world. People like this need and deserve to be advocated for.

Donations can also be made through the "Support T" tab which can be located under the "Stories" tab.