Razia's Ray of Hope

The Razia’s Ray of Hope Blog

News about the foundation, girls' education, and women's rights in Afghanistan

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American Students Reflect on Afghan Connections

Sharon Middle School

In October 2016, six students from the Girls Learn International Club (GLI) in Sharon went to the Student Showcase at the annual MassCUE Conference at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. There, they explained to educators from around the state how they connect with the Zabuli Education Center in Afghanistan through videoconferences facilitated by the Global Nomads Group, and work to support the center by raising awareness and money. Following the conference, five of the girls wrote about the experience. 

Today was amazing! We got to share our love for changing the world with others. We went to the MASSCUE conference to share how we video call with the girls who go to school at the Zabuli Center of Education in Afghanistan. We were told by one women that we were the best presentation there. We explained how we fundraise by having bake sales, a figure skating event, and a movie showing. We also got to tell people about the problem the girls in Zabuli face. Like child marriage and not being safe to go to school since there are some people in Afghanistan who do not approve of it. 

I have presented about the Zabuli Center many times in my four years as a member of GLI and today at the MassCUE conference was by far the most meaningful presentation we have ever given. The room was full of educators – people who truly grasp the importance of education – and speaking with some of these people was amazing because we were able to share about everything we do and stand for as a club and were met with enthusiastic reactions and stories of other schools making a difference in the world. We talked of our fundraisers, videoconferences, and how we advocate for girls education. Several people asked what our takeaway from GLI is.

Up until today, I hadn’t really thought about it but as soon as the question was posed, I realized that this club and connecting with the Zabuli Center has really shaped who I am and I am a completely different person because of it. I joined GLI not really knowing what I was signing up for but soon as I got involved, I realized that anyone can make a difference and being a member of GLI has opened my eyes to the world. The connections forged with the girls in Afghanistan at the videoconferences are what motivates me to keep striving for change. Hearing how different their lives are – how everything they don’t have we take for granted – that is what makes the work we do important. This contrast was drawn by several educators we talked to today, including one woman who told us a story about a girl from the Middle East who fell in love with a man living in the states and was prevented from ever seeing him again by her father. The girl didn’t even have the power to choose her love, similar to many girls living in Afghanistan. This lady we talked to seemed to feel as passionately about girls education and equal rights as we do, because she understands the importance of education and the doors it can open. Speaking with her and people like her was what made today so meaningful for me.

On October 19, 2016, students from the high school and middle school GLI Club went to the MassCUE Conference at Gillette Stadium. I went in very nervous and jittery for I was afraid to present in front of educators and other prestigious people. I thought that it would be nerve wracking and scary but ended up being one of the most meaningful experience in my life. I not only talked about our club but how it has impacted me. I realized only there, how much I loved participating in this club and being able to help the girls in Afghanistan. I learned so much from the people who talked to us. They gave us suggestions on how to advocate more and about people they knew themselves who went through the same types of hardships. Some of their stories were absolutely amazing. We explained our fundraising methods like the ice skating event we held last year, bake sales, and the upcoming movie, What Tomorrow Brings. We were told by many people that what we were doing was great and how it impressed them. I was inspired to do more by going to the MassCUE Conference and hope to do it again next year.

Going to MassCUE was a great experience! We were given the opportunity to present about our club and what we do. Some of the main points we focused on were fundraisers, videoconferences and advertising about the upcoming film. Many people pointed out that we were doing a really good deed for the world. Up until now I never realized how big of an impact I am making on the world. One lady asked us what we took away from the club, and I have to admit never really thought about what I took away. But now I realize how very fortunate we all are to have easy access to education, and to live in such a diverse community. Also, I never really thought about further “studies” in social justice, now I probably will want to do something for the world and make a difference. MassCUE was a great and inspiring experience, and it taught me so many things! I am glad to have gone and definitely want to go next year.

MassCUE was an awe-inspiring experience. It was a great chance to speak, and tell other curious members how we use the technology to communicate with the girls of Zabuli. We told people about our fundraisers, our video conferences, and what we do and contribute to the wonderful students. MassCUE, and the people there helped me realize what we really are doing. I finally learned that even though we have done small things to help them, every step of the way matters. Many of the people that asked us questions, also told us that we were doing something extraordinary. People here take many things for granted-especially their education. For girls at Zabuli, just going to school safely is a big deal. The girls there want to go to school, and they want to get educated. Even though MassCUE was meant for me, Nikita, Rachel, Riley, Hannah, and Samyuktha to present our way of communication to Zabuli, we learned much more. The smallest things that you do in life, make a big difference, and MassCUE helped us realize this.


The Celebrate 500 Tour: You're Invited!


Come to an exclusive showing of What Tomorrow Brings, a life-changing documentary that leaves viewers profoundly moved and inspired. 

The Celebrate 500 Tour is a celebration of Jan’s work. A long-time Duxbury resident, Jan moved back to Afghanistan in 2002 to improve the lives of girls and young women. In 2008 she opened the Zabuli Education Center, an all-girls K-12 school in rural Afghanistan. In the years since, the school has grown from 100 students to more than 550. The first graduating class matriculated last year. And Jan has now completed construction on a post-secondary school: The Razia Jan Institute.

What Tomorrow Brings tells the intimate story of students and teachers at the Zabuli Education Center. While the girls learn to read and write, their education goes far beyond the classroom. They discover that their school is the one place they can turn to understand the differences between the lives they were born into and the lives they dream of leading. What Tomorrow Brings premiered in North America at the Hot Docs Film Festival in Toronto, Canada.


11/4/16 Duxbury, MA
11/11/16 Bartlesville, OK


*Film screening only; Razia will not be in attendance


Student Profile: Uzma

UzmaMeet Uzma, one of our current seniors!

Uzma is 17 years old and is in the twelfth grade. Her father is unemployed and her mother is a homemaker. She has three sisters and four brothers. One of her older brothers works at Shamshad TV, and the other is attending university abroad. Her younger brothers are in ninth grade and fourth grade in public school in Deh-Subz.

Her three sisters all go to school at the Zabuli Education Center. Soma is in eleventh grade, Nadeema is in tenth grade, and Marwa is in fifth grade.

Uzma started attending ZEC in the fourth grade in 2008. She is an intelligent, studious, and punctual student. She writes, reads, and speaks English very well. Her favorite classes are Computer Literacy, English, and Biology. She wants to become a doctor when she grows up so she can serve her people.

To view more of our student profiles, click here

First Lady of Afghanistan Rula Ghani

Razia Jan was honored and pleased to meet with First Lady of Afghanistan Rula Ghani in Washington, DC, last week!


Senior Class Visits American University of Afghanistan

Our new class of seniors had a wonderful visit to the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) yesterday! Thank you so much for the kind hospitality and the inspiration, AUAF--and especially to Dr. Mark English, pictured here with Razia Jan, Nahid Alawi, and our seniors. The girls loved every minute!


Congratulations, Graduates!

2015 Graduates, Zabuli Education Center

First Class to Graduate from Afghan Girls’ School Founded by CNN Hero Razia Jan

graduateRazia’s Ray of Hope Foundation proudly announces that the first class of seniors at the Zabuli Education Center for girls in Afghanistan, founded by CNN Hero Razia Jan, will graduate with high school diplomas on December 12, 2015. The ceremony will be live-streamed for viewers around the globe late Friday night and early Saturday morning. For viewing instructions, visit our home page.

The Zabuli Education Center is a thriving K-12 school in the district of Deh’Subz that has flourished since opening its doors eight years ago, providing free, superlative education in a highly impoverished area:

  • Student enrollment has grown from 109 students to nearly 500.
  • By the Afghan Ministry of Education’s metrics for administration, curricula, and facilities, the Zabuli Education Center is the top private school in the district. Students continually pass Ministry-issued semi-annual exams with flying colors. A representative from the Ministry is on record describing the school as “perfect.”
  • The school’s attendance rate is 93% and retention rate is 96%.
  • In 2013, the school added a third floor to accommodate demand.
  • Illiterate fathers who were once leery about sending their daughters to school now express pride that their little girls can help them read letters—even in English.
  • Village elders, who once refused to look Razia in the eye, now praise her efforts and support the school’s growth, referring to Razia as the “Mother of Deh’Subz.”
  • Girls who once were silent about forced engagements and early marriages are now speaking up and finding ways to negotiate more time in school.

“What these students have accomplished today is beyond my expectations, but not beyond my dreams,” said Razia Jan. “They have opened the doors of knowledge and freedom in their lives—and that achievement can never be taken away. There is no one in the world so proud of these girls as I am.”

Those looking for a way to support Razia’s Ray of Hope are encouraged to Sponsor a student; details are available here.

A number of these graduates will be part of the inaugural semester at the brand-new Razia Jan Institute, the first post-secondary institute for women in rural Afghanistan, which is currently under construction on a site adjacent to the Zabuli Education Center. Two courses of study will be offered: office administration and health services/midwifery. The latter program will establish the first health care clinic in the district. Students will graduate in two years with marketable, much-needed skills and the ability to work in schools, businesses, government, and health care—careers that are compatible with being a married, observant Afghan woman. The institute will also provide English and computer classes.

Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation has received international accolades for its critical impact in one of the world’s most distressed and volatile countries. The foundation provides opportunities to learn and grow in a safe, nurturing environment, empowering girls through education and resources so that they may work toward brighter futures in their own villages and beyond.

The Power of Hope

ShokriaNow, more than ever, concerned global citizens must come together to enact positive, systemic change. In no uncertain terms, the future—the future we share—depends upon our unified collaboration. Girls' education is acknowledged to be one of the most effective means of reducing poverty, fostering stability, and combating violent extremism.

Will you join our family of supporters by Sponsoring one of our eager young students? Girls like seven-year-old Shokria—who wants to become a teacher when she grows up—depend on you to fulfill their own dreams of making the world a better place.

Since opening our doors eight years ago, our school has grown from 109 students to 530. We've expanded our building to accommodate demand. Our students take exams issued by the Afghan Ministry of Education twice a year, and continually pass with flying colors. We're thrilled that our first class of seniors will graduate on December 12—and that many of them will be part of our inaugural semester at the brand-new Razia Jan Institute, the first college for women in rural Afghanistan. 

Sponsorship is the perfect gift for the loved one in your life who wants to make a positive impact in our global village. Honor him or her with the gift of hope — a holiday present that will endure well after the wrappings and festivities have faded away. A gift letter for your recipient is available for download here.

Through our Sponsorship program, for just $25 a month—about the cost of one caffè latte a week—you provide one of our students with quality education and opportunity. During each year of Sponsorship, you or your gift recipient will receive:

  • A handwritten card from our founder, CNN Hero Razia Jan
  • A photo of your student along with her biographical introduction
  • Two personal letters from your student, in English!

The impact of your support becomes tangible as you come to know an Afghan student personally in a relationship that enriches her life—and yours.

Our goal is to reach 100% Sponsorship by the end of 2015. This is our end-of-year campaign and we will not be asking you for any other contribution. Please, join our Sponsorship program today. Your student is waiting!

Student Profile: Fareha

Meet Fareha, just one of the many students that will benefit form the building of a technical college in rural Afghanistan!

FarehaFareha is 15 years old and is in the tenth grade. Her father is a businessman and her mother is a homemaker. She has one sister and five brothers. Her eldest brother is currently attending university. Her sister, Feroza, is in the fifth grade at ZEC. Her second brother is in the eleventh grade, her third brother is in the seventh grade, and her fourth brother is in the fifth grade at public school. Her youngest brother is 6 years old.

Fareha started attending ZEC in the third grade in 2008. She is an intelligent and punctual student, and she studies her lessons eagerly. Her favorite subjects are Computer Literacy and English. She enjoys watching movies and weaving in her spare time.

Fareha's greatest wish is for peace in Afghanistan. She wants to become a doctor when she grows up so she can serve the people in her village.

To view more of our student profiles, click here. To learn more about the technical college we're building for our ZEC graduates, click here!

Article by Filmmaker Beth Murphy in The Islamic Monthly

What Tomorrow Brings director Beth Murphy has written an article for The Islamic Monthly about Razia Jan and her journey from community activist to founder of the Zabuli Education Center. Beth discusses how life in Afghanistan has changed for women and girls in Razia's lifetime and what the building of a women's technical college would mean for the community of Deh’Subz.

"There’s more at stake here than just sending the Zabuli girls to college. They are a living demonstration of the power of education to change everything. This college can be a catalyst for change for the better, and have a positive impact on generation after generation, quite literally changing the future. Even without a college yet to attend, these young women can envision themselves — and their own daughters one day — as college graduates."

Read the full article here.

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