News about the foundation, girls' education, and women's rights in Afghanistan
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A group of our kindergarten students display their English skills--and a whole lot of cute!
Mahnaz is the youngest of six children. At birth, she weighed just 2 pounds. Mahnaz's mother held the baby girl the palm of her hand — and fed Mahnaz with an eye dropper. As Mahnaz grew, her limbs appeared entangled. She could not use her hands or legs. Before her first birthday, she was diagnosed with polio. Over time, with the love and care of her family, Mahnaz's condition improved. She learned to use her hands, but remained unable to sit or stand.
Afghanistan is not a welcoming place to those with physical abnormalities. In the past, it was commonplace for village children like Mahnaz to be shuttered away at home by parents who were ashamed of having a crippled child. Fortunately for Mahnaz, she was born to sensitive, progressive family.
As the years passed, Mahnaz saw her five older siblings head off to school every day. She wanted to know when she would be able to school. She persistently questioned her parents: "When will I go to school?" It became clear that Mahnaz was undaunted by her physical challenges and was not going to be satisfied by staying at home. But her parents had difficulty imagining how their youngest child would ever be able to attend school like her older siblings.
In 2016, Mahnaz's father carried her into the Zabuli Education Center. He begged us to admit his daughter, who wanted nothing more than the opportunity of education among her peers. Razia Jan shared Mahnaz's parents' determination to provide Mahnaz an education. We admitted Mahnaz, resolving to accommodate her physical needs. With Razia's creativity and inspiration, we built a special desk that supports Mahnaz comfortably while sitting in the classroom, and she quickly became part of our school community.
Today Mahnaz is in the first grade. Her energy and commitment are extraordinary. She struggles just to get to school; someone must carry her from home to the bus; upon arrival at school, one of the other students carries Mahnaz to her classroom. This routine is reversed at the end of the day. Mahnaz doesn't complain; she always has a smile on her face.
Mahnaz dreams of one day becoming a doctor. Our dream is to help Mahanz become everything she wants to be.
When you read about our various goings-on, keep Mahnaz in mind. She is the embodiment of all that we're working to accomplish.
Shabnam is a 19-year-old senior at the Zabuli Education Center. She began at our school in 2008 as a third grader. Shabnam is a very pleasant and well-behaved student. Her favorite subjects are English and Dari.
Shabnam has three sisters and three brothers. Her two eldest sisters are married; one has six children. Her third sister stays at home to help their mother with domestic work. Shabnam’s father works in a brick factory in Deh’Subz. Two of her brothers are married with children and work as taxi drivers in Deh'Subz. Her third brother studies computer science at a private university.
Shabnam enjoys cooking in her spare time and wants to become a journalist when she finishes school.