Thursday, September 24, 2015

Women are the eyes of Afghanistan

When Razia Jan, now 70,  grew up in Afghanistan, it offered free education to both boys and girls.  Kabul was a modern city, the Paris of Southeast Asia. But in 1979, while Razia was visiting the United States, Russia invaded Afghanistan and the 10-year conflict which followed resulted in a Taliban take-over.  Unable to return, she stayed in the United States to study at Harvard, marry and raise a son, but now, as a grandmother, she's returned to help girls in her home country.
                                                                                                              Beth Murphy/Ground Truth Project
In the village of Deh'Subz, a suburb of Kabul, she obtained a property most recently used as a dump. With a grant from the Rotary Club, she built a school there -- the first for village girls. When it opened in 2008, village elders insisted it be for boys, but Razia refused. "Women are the eyes of Afghanistan," she told the elders, "and unfortunately you are all blind."

Each morning the school principal tastes the water to be sure it is safe. Water at other schools has been poisoned. Guards protect the building 24/7. But despite adversity, the school is thriving. It has 450 eager students, and local leaders now send their own daughters, a powerful endorsement. Razia encourages girls to stay in school as long as possible. She tells them, "No matter how little you know, no one can take it from you."

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