The Afghanistan of Maria Aziz's childhood is an idyllic place. She recalls walking safely to school with her siblings, attending concerts, taking family holidays where she'd pick fruit from the trees and take cooling dips in the river.
It was the most beautiful time of her life.
Then, the Soviet occupation changed everything.
In 1983, Maria's family fled the communist regime, living first in India for five years before they were approved for passage to Australia as refugees.
"It was the most beautiful feeling to be able to come to Australia and live in a society where they respect human rights and there was respect for women's rights and children," she told Mamamia's news podcast, The Quicky. "We lived here, and we felt safe once again."
Three decades on, Maria is watching from afar as the Afghanistan she once called home buckles under another period of political upheaval.
Listen: It's been two weeks since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan. And there are serious fears for women's safety.
Militant Islamist group the Taliban recently seized control of the Afghan government, two decades after they were ousted by US-allied forces responding to the September 11 attacks.
With those troops now withdrawing from the country at the end of their protracted 'nation-building' mission, the Taliban's return to power has been swift.
The insurgency swept through the countryside toward the gates of Kabul in a matter of weeks, ousting the brittle government and reimposing their cruel brand of Sharia law. One which, during their previous five-year reign, saw girls and women prohibited from accessing education, public stoning, beatings and massacres.
"These people are torturing, killing, slaughtering, humiliating, raping people," Maria said. "The whole world is watching, and it really hurts when you see that nobody is trying to do anything about it."
As a counsellor, Maria Aziz returned to Afghanistan in 2010-13 where she worked with aid organisations and non-profits, and coached Afghan women in capacity building. She said much of that work is now being undone.
"The three years that I was there, I started many projects that were doing well, and we were very happy. But now it's all shattered," she said through tears. "People send me photos and they burnt their books. I have girls writing me messages [saying], 'We will never go back to school.'
"It tears me apart. It breaks my heart for the woman there. For those who had a dream and hope for the future."