Empowering girls, women in Afghanistan
Girls in the village of Deh'Subz , near Kabul, Afghanistan, anticipate the opening of a school for girls and an adult center for women. Photo courtesy of Razia Jan
Girls living in and near the village of Deh’Subz, outside of Kabul, Afghanistan, will hear school bells ringing closer to their homes for them for the first time starting in March.
Rotarian Razia Jan, a native of Afghanistan, visited her homeland in 2001 after the Taliban’s reign (1996-2001), and in 2002 she began working with the orphanages in the area. It was during her visits that she decided the girls who walk more than two miles each way on a dirt road to school and those who have never had any formal education needed a school closer to where they live.
“A whole generation of girls have never been to school because of the Taliban’s rules prohibiting girls from attending school and the destruction of the schools,” said Jan, a member of the Rotary Club of Duxbury, Massachusetts, USA. “But that is about to change.”
Seeing firsthand the need for girls and women to be educated and productive in her homeland, Jan became inspired to build a school for girls that also will serve as an adult education center for women.
“Our club is just about to open a school for girls in Afghanistan to help break the cycle of poverty [through] access to an education in a very poor village,” Jan says. “By providing them with an education, we are giving them a ray of hope to protect them from the vicious cycle of poverty, malnutrition, and hunger.”
The year-round school is scheduled to open with about 200 girls, ages 4-18. The adult education center is expecting 20 to 30 women, many of them widows with children, to come to learn a trade or how to start a business.
During two visits to Afghanistan, Jan found the site for the school, which she says is in a safe location and within walking distance of six or seven villages. By the time it’s completed, the school will cost more than US$150,000, and additional funds will be needed to sustain it.
The 17-member Duxbury club has raised more than $100,000 so far. “My club is very supportive,” Jan says. “We had two big fundraisers for this project, in 2005 and in 2007, and they both were very successful.” The fundraisers included a program with a book signing by Khaled Hosseni, music by Ehsan Aman, a silent auction and a gourmet Afghan dinner.