Published: 2017-07-11 11:56
Last Updated: 2017-07-11 13:04
If you’re in need of inspiration, look no further.
An Afghani ex-refugee is inspiring other women to follow their dreams by flying solo around the world.
Shaesta Waiz is the first female certified civilian pilot from Afghanistan, and at 29, she aims to become the youngest woman to fly unaccompanied around the world.
Born in a refugee camp in Afghanistan, Waiz was excited to start her epic journey, in a small, single-engine plane, from the US - where she now lives - back to her home country.
“It's been almost 29 years. To come back to the country as a pilot who is flying around the world to inspire others - it makes me really happy to be here,” she excitedly told reporters.
Waiz escaped her war-torn country in 1987 during the Soviet-Afghan war. She moved to the US with her family, where she grew up in an underprivileged area of Richmond, California.
Discovering her love for aviation pushed Waiz to pursue higher education.
“When I was a little girl I thought maybe I would go to college, but I would get married at a young age and have a family. But then I found something that I really loved and that's flying,” she told a news conference in Kabul.
“It's an incredible feeling to be the pilot of your own aeroplane and to fly wherever your heart desires. It's a passion that I really enjoy, that I protect, and that I want women from Afghanistan to experience as well.”
Waiz began her flying adventure in Florida on May 13 and will be visiting 19 countries by flying through Asia and Australia before crossing the US back to Florida.
While Waiz went for a flying visit to Afghanistan this time around, she plans on returning there soon.
“In a couple of years I have every intention of coming back here and maybe opening a flight school or doing something so that women can experience aviation in Afghanistan,” she said.
“Women are suffering here a lot,” she added. “I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be educated, to find something that I love which is flying and it breaks my heart because I know there are a lot of girls my age who haven't had the opportunities.
“I want to do something to give back to these women.”