Razia’s Ray of Hope, Afghanistan

In August, 2021 the Taliban swept across Afghanistan and all the hopes and dreams of Afghan girls and women were demolished. Or were they? While there are many setbacks and uncertainties for women and girls in Afghanistan, there remains a ray of hope.

Razia’s Ray of Hope (RRH) has been improving the lives of girls in Afghanistan through education since 2008, and despite drastic governmental changes, it is continuing to do so. While girls’ lives have been upended in many regions of the country, 30 miles to the northeast of Kabul in Deh’ Subz, RRH has created a foundation for girls education that is resilient. Having known about Razia’s work for several years, and optimistic that the groundwork she has laid will continue to emphasize the value of girls’ education in Afghanistan, Forgirlsake is confident in the success of their education program and is delighted to fund one of their incoming kindergarten classrooms in 2022.

Breaking Barriers

Afghanistan suffers from one of the worst health indicators in the world, and women and girls suffer greater negative health outcomes due to severe gender-based sociopolitical obstacles, further exacerbated by a general lack of access to and affordability of basic health services and barriers to education. Afghan girls and women face disproportionately high levels of violence in many forms; torture, rape, child and forced marriages (among them, Baadal—the exchange of daughters or sisters as brides, and Baad—arranged marriages to settle disputes). This cycle of violence is perpetuated by entrenched gender inequalities and cultural norms. Without education, cycles of violence and oppression will prevail.

Deh’ Subz, comprised of 46 villages with a total of approximately 100,000 residents including a large number of nomadic families, is a region with one of the lowest literacy rates in the world. Over its multi-millennial history, the district had never educated girls. All of that changed with the arrival of Razia’s Ray of Hope. Before their arrival, the idea of a girls’ school in the district was met with resistance. But their founder, Razia Jan, a native Afghani, knew how to connect with local leaders and make lasting change.

RRH utilizes a community-based programming strategy to create peaceful change while prioritizing the safety and sustainability of their school. Razia’s relentless commitment to respect cultural norms led her to involve village elders and locals in consultations prior to the school’s opening. She has continued to engage community members in decision-making processes as the school has grown, allowing traditions to merge with global skills and education to prepare the girls for life after graduation.

Over the years the demand for girls’ education increased and the school’s waitlist for entry grew to over 300 girls. To accommodate the demand, RRH broke ground on a second school in 2021, expanding enrollment from the 900+ girls currently enrolled to 1,400 K-12 students by 2025. Due to the significant sociopolitical developments Afghanistan has seen throughout 2021, their community is reporting a notable influx of internally displaced families, and as a result, RRH is experiencing a marked increase of in demand for enrollment at their schools. As of March 2022, kindergarten and post-secondary programs are operating and there is a lot of pressure, locally and globally, to get the high school girls back in school.

Our 2022 Project: The Zabuli Education Center

Forgirlsake’s is funding a girls’ classroom of 25 kindergarten students during their first year of school. A brand-new class at the Zabuli Education Center will be provided an education in a safe environment with a well-rounded curriculum, including extracurriculars such as arts and sports classes. The students are ensured safe transportation to and from school, school supplies, uniforms, warm winter clothing, and anything they need to guarantee that their education is entirely free-of-cost.

Amidst the ongoing sociopolitical changes in Afghanistan, the country is also experiencing severe food insecurity and staggering levels of acute malnutrition. For many years, the students at ZEC have been provided supplementary food on an as-needed basis, but now, nearly all the girls need significant nutritional support. Knowing that hunger is a severe detriment to learning, Forgirlsake is also providing one complete meal per day, six days a week for these students. This crucial addition will enable the girls to attend school by alleviating some of the impact of the inaccessibility to proper nutrition. To suport girls in Afghanistan, click here!

Professional Women are Needed in Afghanistan

Girls’ education is proven to be one of the most significant indicators of a society’s ability to combat global plights, including climate change, societal instability and inequity, and gender-based violence. In an effort to highlight the societal value of girls’ education and the need for women in the workforce, RRH also offers much needed post graduate programs in education and midwifery. For more information, visit  https://raziasrayofhope.org