The year was 1996, and Afghanistan had fallen to the Taliban for the first time. Shabana Basij-Rasikh was only six years old, with no hope of obtaining a formal education because all girls' schools had been slammed shut. Despite the dangers of opposing the Taliban's rule, Basij-Rasikh's parents, a former general and an educator, refused to keep their daughters locked up at home. ALSO READ: Basij-Rasikh on Afghan girls’ journey, finding welcoming learning place in Rwanda They decide to enroll their daughters in a secret school run out of a former principal's living room, giving them a rare privilege of Education at the time. The Taliban do not allow women to go outside alone, So Basij-Rasikh must disguise herself as a boy and have her hair cut short to be able to accompany her sister to and from the secret school. They had to take different streets every day, carefully mapping out their routes, to avoid creating a routine. The same shopkeeper at a certain convenience store should not notice you every day. They (parents) never knew when or if we would return home, Basij-Rasikh recounted in an interview with Lesley Stahl for CBS News. Our parents would tell us; you can be forced to leave your home, forced into exile, and lose any material or property in your possession. But the one thing that can never be taken away from you is your education, she said. ALSO READ: Kagame meets Afghan girls' leadership school founder This continued until 2001, when the Taliban fell following the U.S. invasion, allowing Basij-Rasikh for the first time to attend a real school. She soon excelled and was accepted into a State Department programme to attend high school in the United States for a year. What struck me the most, was living in a society for the first time in my life, where girls had no concerns whatsoever that their freedom to attend school could be taken away from them at any time, which is something that every single Afghan girl who's lucky enough to go to school lives with, she went on. But Basij-Rasikh never forgot about her homeland. After receiving a scholarship to attend Middlebury College in Vermont, she founded SOLA, back home in Kabul. SOLA, the Afghan word for peace and a short form for School of Leadership Afghanistan, would then become the only opportunity for a number of Afghan girls to obtain formal Education. In 2016, SOLA expanded to become a full-fledged 6-12th grade girls’ boarding school -- the only one in Afghanistan. At the start of 2021, SOLA was fully thriving. Basij-Rasikh had secured land in Kabul and construction was underway on a new campus. There were a record number of applications, with students from all over the country enrolling. And SOLA graduates were doing exactly what she had envisioned: becoming great Muslims, great Afghans, and highly educated. ALSO READ: Afghan girls relish “remarkable” reception in Rwanda Until April 2021, when the US announced an unconditional withdrawal from Afghanistan, giving the newly emboldened Taliban a foothold. Basij-Rasikh knew it was going to be just a matter of time until Kabul was not a safe space for SOLA anymore. She had to find a way to ensure their –students and staff–’s safety. But first, she had to keep a promise she'd made to a student's father years earlier. Promise me, when the Taliban come to Kabul, that you will burn my daughter's records. If they find out that she's a student here, they will kill me and my family, the father had told her. So she did something that would break her heart; set fire to the school's furnace and courtyard, to the hard-earned records of all of SOLA's students. It was incredibly painful. It felt like making them disappear, she explained. After a scurry to get to the airport through Taliban checkpoints and the ruckus at the airport at the time as many people tried to flee, Basij-Rasikh finally managed to get everyone out — 256 people — after three long days and two nights in that airport, boarded the military transport plane that would eventually fly them away. Despite being warned that her name was on the top Taliban hit list and offered a way out right away, she refused to abandon the other students and teachers who were still trapped in the crowds outside. She refused to leave until each one of them was safely on board. I was taking with me from Afghanistan some of the best educated girls, women leaders in the making. I felt so heartbroken for our people, for Afghanistan. I felt heartbroken for the very people who are leaving. They are some of the most wanted talents in Afghanistan. And as soon as they step outside of this airport, they are going to be seen as unwanted refugees wherever they end up, she recounted (teary). Two years later--the SOLA girls have found a home in Rwanda. Making them the only Afghan middle and high school girls -- out of a country of 40 million -- who are getting a formal education. Back in Afghanistan, women have been ordered to cover themselves head to toe again. They're banned from public parks and banned from universities as well. Something that breaks Basij-Rasikh's heart. We cannot under any circumstances submit to the Taliban's vision for Afghanistan. It means continuing to educate more Afghan girls, she said. SOLA has been recruiting over Zoom, from Afghan refugee communities and camps in countries around the world, to bring them to Rwanda. However, Basij-Rasikh, remains hopeful that she will one day return home. I've borrowed a stone from the airport. I need to return. I spend every waking hour preparing for it, she noted.