A 29-year-old Afghan-American female pilot, Shaesta Waiz, arrived in Kabul on Monday as part of her historic around-the-world solo flight.
As part of her solo flight, Waiz arrived in Dubai a few days ago but boarded a commercial flight to Kabul on Monday as her own plane is not suited to flying over such mountainous terrain.
"I was very interested to visit Kabul and meet with Afghan girls and women and now I am very happy," said Waiz.
"I want to say to Afghan people that I will come back next year to open a civil aviation school in Afghanistan," Waiz added.
On her arrival at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Waiz received a warm welcome from a number of Kabul residents and civil society activists.
“We are proud that the Afghan girl, Shaesta, has flown around the world and I believe that every Afghan girl can become a Shaesta if they are supported,” Gul Jan Bakhshi, head of the gender equality department in the CEO’s office said.
According to Waiz, her trip has been planned for four years and the aim of her solo flight is to share and promote the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education – especially to girls.
Her solo flight kicked off in Florida in the U.S two months ago and by the time her journey is finished, Waiz would have made 30 stops in 19 countries on five different continents – covering a total distance of over 46,000 kilometers.
Once complete, Waiz will become the youngest women to ever complete such a flight.
Waiz's father said Afghan girls need the support of their families, especially the support of their parents so as to achieve their goals.
“The support of parents for girls is very constructive. Parents should provide the opportunity for higher education studies for their children, especially for girls ,” said Fahim Waiz Arghandiwal, Waiz's father.
Born in a refugee camp in Afghanistan at the end of the Soviet war, Waiz emigrated to the U.S with her family in 1987.
Waiz became the first certified civilian female pilot from Afghanistan and the first person in her family to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree — both from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Waiz said however that she has had to leave her plane in Dubai for now – in order to pay a two-day visit to the country of her birth. The next leg of her flight will take her from Dubai to India – and then on to the remaining eight countries before she returns home.