Rukhsar Habibzai: The Life-Altering Journey of Leaving Home

Discover the remarkable tale of Rukhsar Habibzai, a beacon of courage, resilience, and determination. As the driving force behind Cheetah Cycling Club and the trailblazing captain of Afghanistan’s inaugural women’s cycling team, Rukhsar defied societal norms and overcame monumental challenges on her path to cycling excellence. In this blog post, we explore Rukhsar’s transformative journey as she bravely left her homeland in Afghanistan, faced with formidable struggles, and showcased unwavering strength in the face of adversity.

The Gathering Storm: An Ominous Sense of Foreboding

The Gathering Storm: An Ominous Sense of Foreboding

In the face of mounting threats and the resurgence of the Taliban, Rukhsar vividly recounts the chilling atmosphere that permeated Afghanistan. The looming fear of losing fundamental rights and the memories of the Taliban’s previous reign cast a dark shadow over the country. The daily realities of bomb blasts and the impending loss of freedom compelled many to contemplate escaping their homeland.

The Last Day: Capturing a Bittersweet Moment

Rukhsar reflects on the day she left for university, unknowingly walking into what could be her final day attending college in Kabul. The video she captured during her journey serves as a poignant reminder of her life before the upheaval. Despite the escalating tension, she clung to the belief that education was their right and vowed to fight for freedom. Little did she know how drastically her life was about to change.

Torn Between Education and Survival: The Dilemma of Leaving Unfinished

As the Taliban’s grip on Afghanistan tightened, Rukhsar found herself torn between completing her dentistry program and fleeing for safety. While she debated with her peers about the Taliban’s potential resurgence, her underlying fear lingered. Ultimately, the deteriorating situation left her with no choice but to prioritize survival over her unfulfilled aspirations.

The Desperate Escape: Facing Danger and Uncertainty

Joined by her family, Rukhsar embarked on a perilous journey to flee to a neighboring country. Fear and anxiety plagued their minds as they sought refuge from the encroaching Taliban. With her background in dentistry and the unfinished semester hanging over her, Rukhsar grappled with the weight of leaving behind what she had worked so hard to achieve.

The Agonizing Wait: Stranded at the Gates of Hope

Amidst the chaos and desperation at Hamid Karzai airport, Rukhsar and countless others endured unbearable hardships in their quest for safety. The overwhelming crowds, gunfire, and ruthless Taliban presence made the evacuation process treacherous. Rukhsar vividly describes the heart-wrenching scenes of innocent lives lost, the constant fear, and the deep longing to escape the nightmare they found themselves in.

A Glimmer of Hope: The Lifeline Extended by Miss Lien Johnson

In the midst of despair, a glimmer of hope emerged for Rukhsar when she connected with Miss Lien Johnson, a volunteer assisting with evacuations. Miss Johnson’s efforts provided a ray of light in the darkest of times. Rukhsar’s gratitude for her assistance and the potential opportunity to be included on an evacuation list reignited her hopes for a better future.

A Harrowing Passage: Enduring Trials at the Checkpoints

Rukhsar recounts the harrowing experience of attempting to pass through multiple checkpoints controlled by the Taliban. The fear, physical violence, and uncertainty loomed large as she navigated the treacherous journey with her family. The relentless perseverance and unwavering determination to reach the airport underscored the indomitable spirit within her.

The Fragile Lifeline: From Dust and Desperation to Temporary Safety

Finally reaching the airport gates, Rukhsar found solace in the presence of American military personnel. Their arrival brought a sense of safety and relief, akin to a child finding refuge in their mother’s arms. The overwhelming emotions of the moment exemplified the resolute desire to escape the clutches of the Taliban and the gratitude for the lifeline offered by the international community.


Rukhsar Habibzai’s journey of leaving her home in Afghanistan is a testament to the strength of the human spirit in the face of adversity. Her story, shared by countless Afghans, sheds light on the unimaginable challenges faced by those striving for freedom and safety. Through her remarkable resilience and unwavering determination, Rukhsar serves as an inspiration, reminding us of the courage and fortitude required to overcome the darkest of times. As the world continues to witness the unfolding events in Afghanistan, we must stand in solidarity with those who have been forced to leave their homes, and work towards a future where freedom and peace prevail.


a 35-year-old web developer and cycling coach based in Boulder, Colorado. Over the past ten years, my passion for cycling has transformed from a casual hobby into a way of life. As a lover of all things cycling, I am thrilled to share my journey with others who share the same enthusiasm for this incredible sport.