Bowling with Taban: Afghan Women Refugees in America

Afghan journalists and sisters, Anaita Walizada and Taban Ibraz. Virginia, 2021. Photo: Valerie Plesch / for DCist

Every year around this time, The Kitchen Sisters host Bowling With Grace, our big annual community party at Mission Bowling Club in San Francisco where we honor life-long bowling savant, Amazing Grace Mulloy. Grace, who turns 99 this year, is in two senior bowling leagues and averages about 100 a game. Grace moves through the lanes sipping her signature Scotch and Soda with a green olive, sharing her bowling tips and wisdom with the crowd.

Recently a listener sent us an article from the DCist by writer and photographer Valerie Plesch about an astonishing group of young Afghan women journalists, musicians and activists who fled their country in fear of their lives when the Taliban took over their nation — a group now living in the DC area.

Helal Massomi, Afghan human rights and women’s rights advocate, now living in the U.S. Photo: Valerie Plesch / for DCist

Two paragraphs in, we knew had to go record their stories, hear their voices and bring their lives and situations forward to share with you. Especially when we read that one of the journalists, 26-year-old Taban Ibraz, had a weekly national television show, Let’s Bowl, where she interviewed politicians and people of note while bowling with them in an alley in Kabul.

Bowling binds us as a community at Bowling with Grace. Bowling bound this journalist to her now shattered community in Kabul.

Elham Karimi, Afghan Journalist and Musician, now living in Washington, D.C.

Bowling with Taban: Afghan Women Refugees in America was produced by The Kitchen Sisters (Davia Nelson & Nikki Silva) in collaboration with Brandi Howell, Nathan Dalton, Emma Jackson and mixed by Jim McKee.

Special thanks to Taban Ibraz, Anaitza Walizada, Maryam Yousifi, Helal Massomi, Elham Karimi, Marika Patridge, Lori Davis, Ed James, Ajmal Subat, Nic Neves and Evan Jacoby. Thanks also to The Daily Antidote Podcast and to writer/photographer Valerie Plesch for inspiring this story and sharing her photographs with The Kitchen Sisterhood. All photos from this story are by Valerie.

to the National Endowment for the Arts, The Kaleta Doolin Foundation, The Texas Women’s Foundation and listener contributions to The Kitchen Sisters Productions for the funding that makes these stories possible.

The Kitchen Sisters Present… is part of Radiotopia, an independent, story driven, carefully crafted podcast network from PRX.

The Music
The music heard in this story comes from Afghan rapper Sonita Alizadeh; The Music of Central Asia Vol. 8: Rainbow; Kronos Quartet with Alim & Fargana Qasimov and Homayun Sakhi; Naghma III: Aziz Herawi: Arhoolie Records; Rubab and Tabla: Afghan Melodies; Aryana Sayeed; Cithare en Iran- Santur (Faramarz Payvar); Music from Kabul: 70’s Traditional Folk; World Country Music Album Compilation; Afghani Rabab: Valley Folksong;  Shabab: Kabul Dreams; and Juana Molina.