Western University of Health Sciences



Tirin Lutfy

Administrative Assistant III, Office of the Dean
College of Pharmacy

Uncertainty is always the case for the world that we live in. By nature, and as human beings, we think that we know it all. Yet, we may realize that perhaps there is a driving force — a stream of power — that can either enable us to accomplish our goals or prevent us from executing them altogether. We love to blame our destiny, our luck, or our environment for what we face in our lives; however, some may discover that there may be another force which truly executes our plans above all else.

Today, the entire world faces an enormous change in our daily activities because of COVID-19. This pandemic is a vivid example of that invisible driving force, that stream of power I mentioned before, and it is because of the pandemic that we all have had to readjust our daily lives. Even with the solemn loss of so many lives, we have continued to find the positive — a positive chapter of our lives that we may not realize is taking shape.

The world has been muted for a long while, and now, it is finally time to unmute! Human connection is on the verge of becoming robotic due to the modernization of life, where virtual is the new high-tech trend. There is no one to be blamed, for this is a natural result of our hectic lives. We have been so occupied with making a living and keeping up with trends that we forget that there is such a thing as simply relaxing and breathing, both significant components of a healthy life. Because of this, I want to share a personal story that I have faced at an earlier stage of my life, an experience that has transformed me into a believer of a divine power. In my mind, there is no doubt that we will come out of this pandemic having gained something positive.

It was spring of 1978 when a communist government took over my beloved motherland, Afghanistan. It was the beginning of a dark era in the country — a darkness that, unfortunately, still exists today. The stage was set in the winter of 1979, when the ex-Soviet Union army officially entered Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. This was the true face of invasion, as the army slowly began to control the entirety of the government. One of their missions was a vicious campaign to rid the country of any individuals who were educated or who were suspected to hold anti-communist views. At the time, my father was a professor of law, and a former Kabul University President. He was also against communism. In the spring of 1979, my father was sentenced to life as a political prisoner. It was then when I realized that life is full of challenges, and that even so, I had to adjust somehow in order to carry on living.

At that young age, what mattered most to me was the sense of security and dependability that my father had provided. And it was gone. If it were not for my courageous mother and my two siblings, my life would have been so much more difficult. We were extremely fortunate; after we pulled through a rough nine-month separation from our father, he was released from prison through a change of power from one Afghan communist party to another. My parents were happy to be reunited at last, but fear still loomed over their heads. The new government was still controlled by a communist party. It was, in short, an obvious puppet of the ex-Soviet government.

My parents were intent to avoid future troubles with the communist government. They had one thought and one thought only: we were going to flee the country. My father had developed health issues from his imprisonment, issues that delayed our journey for almost two years. Just before the spring of 1983, my father regained his health, and at last we were able to escape Kabul, becoming refugees in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Our journey was nothing like simply getting into a car or boarding an airplane; it was a nightmare. We avoided conventional routes, as they were strictly controlled by the Russian Red Army. If we were captured, they would execute us, no questions asked. Thus, we resorted to traveling on dirt roads and through valleys — it was an extremely dangerous means of travel, but also the safest option we had. We had no choice but to run for our lives from a communist government.

Picture this: multitudes of Afghans fleeing for their lives, caught and killed by Russian soldiers or robbed by road thieves.

It was nothing short of petrifying. As I vividly reminisce about our month-long journey of traveling from Kabul to Islamabad, I feel I could fill hundreds and hundreds of pages. We were refugees in Islamabad for four years. Then, our family sought political asylum from the U.S. government, and together we came to the United States of America in the winter of 1987. Since then, my family and I have been blessed to live in this great multicultural land.

Through my journey from one part of the world to another, I have learned that there is nothing to be scared of if you are determined, focused, and honest with yourself and the people around you. For those who face a completely new and different environment and culture, this is a huge challenge. It is so important to keep in mind that being kind and nonjudgmental, and attempting to understand the people around you, all make such a big difference.

Experiencing cultural diversity opens many doors, and most importantly, it shows us that we are all human beings with much more in common than not. The stream that runs up and down through our veins, life’s blood, is RED for all no matter where we are from! The most important concept that glues the entire world together with love and peace is the realization that we are all the same, that we are HUMAN! For the past fifteen years that I have been working with WesternU, and this is the first time that I am unmuting myself to my wonderful WesternU family by sharing a piece of my past journey, something I hope will bring positive vibes during these uncertain times.

On October 27th, 2020, my family was upended from our home once more, this time due to wildfires. My husband and I — both part of the WesternU family — had already been working remotely due to the pandemic, when the city told us to evacuate due to the fires. I reflected with my husband as we evacuated campus in March: perhaps I have gotten used to packing up my belongings and moving from one place to another. Luckily, two and half days later, we were home again safe and sound. Although we are not escaping from the Russian Red Army, I realized that we survived then, and we shall survive now.

I send my love and positive thoughts to each and every one of you and to the entire world. To you all, I wish a speedy recovery.