Back to School in Afghanistan
With the help of volunteers in the U.S., Afghan girls return to the classroom
Sabrina Omar (left) interviews a student at A4T1 School For Girls in Kabul, Afghanistan, on June 11,2007. (Photo: Steven Ehrenberg)
In the principal's office of a girls' school in the heart of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, Aisha sat with her hands clasped in her lap, eager to tell her story.
"We can learn, we are happy, and we are excited," said the 13-year-old student. "We are happy to know that we have the opportunity to learn—like Americans.”
Aisha has only been in school for four years. Before then, girls in Afghanistan were not allowed to go school. Afghanistan's government, the Taliban, imposed harsh laws for how its citizens live their lives, such as forbidding girls from formal education or even leaving the house alone. Girls who wanted to learn risked their lives.
Aisha wore a black uniform with a white chadar, or headscarf, tightly wrapped around her face, covering her hair and her forehead. It is a typical schoolgirl’s uniform. But if Aisha had her way, she would change the way she dressed for school.
"I'd wear pink and white," she said. "The color pink shows love, and I have a love for this school."
AFGHANS FOR TOMORROW
Aisha's school is called A4T1, which stands for Afghans4Tomorrow, the non-profit organization that provides funding for the school. The organization believes that everyone has a basic human right to education, male or female.
Afghans who had returned to their country after years of Taliban leadership founded the organization in 1999. Since then, it has grown with the help of volunteers around the world, including many from the United States.
American students donated school supplies, clothes, and materials for everyday use. Zerger Elementary, a school in Westminster, Colorado, contributed a great deal. In 2007, Zerger students donated more than 70 items to A4T schools, including clothes, jackets, blankets, shoes, books, and toys. Some students sent letters and drew pictures so that Afghan students could add some color to the bare walls of their classrooms.
The Afghan students appreciate the consideration of kids from all over the world.
"Once you have given us the opportunity, we'll use it," promised Fahima, a 13-year-old student at A4TI. Sure enough, Afghans For Tomorrow has given them an opportunity that several years ago was only a dream.
Kids in Afghanistan
Read more stories about life in Afghanistan in our special report.
Sabrina Omar is a member of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.