Anthrow Circus

Young Afghan Dreams: Three Sisters Share Their Artwork—and Future Hopes


“The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.” This quote from Disney’s animated film “Mulan” aptly describes Maryam, Khadija, and Fatima Kawsary, teenage Afghan sisters living outside of their home country and still cultivating their passion for art.

With the support of their parents, the sisters pursued art education in Kabul, Afghanistan, striving to develop their artistic interests and skills. But in late 2021, it looked like their pursuit would be halted. Maryam describes the day she carried her artwork home from school. “My paintings are like parts of my body,” she says, “and they took those parts of body and tore them into pieces.”

In a moving, 7-minute documentary, journalist and filmmaker W.H.—herself an Afghan in exile—conveys a compelling story of three hopeful, ambitious sisters determined to achieve their dreams. “In the thick of wavering fate and enduring hardship,” she narrates, “Maryam, Fatima, and Khadija indeed are the flowers that strive to flourish.”  

Music credits: “Adventure” by Infraction“Chukou” and “Take Five” by Ambre Jaune • “Ever So Blue” by Okra
“Pensive Gaze” by Amber Glow • “Among the Clouds” by Helmut Schenker

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W.H. is an Afghan woman, a journalist forced to live in exile for safety reasons.

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In addition to serving as Anthrow Circus's assistant editor and proofreader, Heather Surls regularly contributes stories to the site, drawing inspiration from her relationships and experiences in Amman, Jordan. Her creative work has also appeared in places like Catamaran, Brevity, River Teeth, EthnoTraveler, and Nowhere. She is working on her first book, a collection of essays about Jordan and Israel/Palestine.

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