In the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and the ensuing war, Afghan native Razia Jan sought a relevant project for the Rotary Club in her adopted hometown of Duxbury, Massachusetts. Razia worked in Duxbury as a tailor and dry cleaner. Because of her passion and commitment, the small shop had become a hub of aid to Razia's homeland of Afghanistan.
When Razia learned of a historic former boys’ school in the Afghan district of Deh’Subz that had been nearly destroyed, she began planning to rebuild the school and resuscitate its mission to provide Afghan girls with a more promising future. Importantly, rather than foist a school onto a random town as a form of social engineering, the project would restore an institution that had been the gift of a beloved Afghan king, Amir Amanullah Khan, in the 1930s and was once a center of the community.
The school’s restoration was important and culturally appropriate on many levels. But Razia needed steadfast logistic support in Afghanistan before she could turn her plans into reality.
While Razia dreamed of the school’s restoration, Aziza Mohamad Dauod, owner of the Niazi Road and Building construction company in Kabul, was looking for a project that would aid Afghanistan’s recovery. Aziza needed the right project, and Razia needed funding.
Razia and Aziza joined forces when Zinat Karzai, wife of Afghan president Hamid Karzai, introduced the two women. The team partnered with Frieda Madjid — or Fareeda Zabuli, as she is known in Afghanistan — the wife of Abdul Madjid Zabuli, an Afghan patriot who shaped the modern Afghan state and founded the Zabuli Foundation. Together the three women decided to rebuild the coveted school and restore a symbol of hope for Deh’Subz.
With help from families in her small coastal town in Massachusetts, Razia began to raise funds to rebuild the school, and the new Zabuli Education Center took shape. Razia received a major financial boost from best-selling Afghan author Khaled Hosseini, who visited Duxbury twice to rally the community. Less than two years after conceiving the project, construction began.
Opened in March 2008, today the school is thriving in its tenth year of operation with more than 625 students at work in classrooms each day. The district of Deh’Subz has embraced the trim cement building with the bold red door as a sign that their children deserve and will, in fact, have a better future.
In March 2017, our doors opened at the adjacent Razia Jan Institute, providing our graduates and other community members with a clear path to empowered employment in midwifery while bringing medical services to a desperately underserved area.
Razia created the Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation so that her dreams for the Deh’Subz community, and the successes that have already been accomplished, will continue even after she is gone. This is Razia’s legacy — her ray of hope.