Dare to educate Afghan girls – Shabana Basij-Rasikh

Dare to educate Afghan girls – Shabana Basij-Rasikh

September 1, 2019 0 By Ronny Jaskolski


when I was 11 I remember waking up one morning to the sound of joy in my house my father was listening to BBC news on his a small gray radio there was a big smile on his face which was unusual then because the news mostly depressed him the Taliban are gone my father shouted I didn’t know what it meant but I could see that my father was very very happy you can go to a real school now he said a morning that I will never forget a real school you see I was six when Taliban took over Afghanistan and made it illegal for girls to go to school so for the next five years I dressed as a boy to escort my older sister who was no longer allowed to be outside alone to a secret school it was the only way we both could be educated each day we took a different route so that no one would suspect where we were going we would cover our books in grocery bags so it would seem we were just out shopping the school was in a house more than 100 of us packed in one small living room it was cozy in winter but extremely hot in summer we all knew we were risking our lives the teacher the students and our parents from time to time of school would suddenly be canceled for a week because Taliban were suspicious we always wondered what they knew about us why are we being followed do they know where we live we were scared but still school was where we wanted to be I was very lucky to grow up in a family where education was priced and daughters were treasure my grandfather was extraordinary man for his time a total maverick from a remote province of Afghanistan he insisted that his daughter my mom go to school and for that he was disowned by his father but my educated mother became a teacher there she is she retired two years ago only to turn our house into a school for girls and woman in our neighborhood and my father that’s him he was the first ever in his family to receive an education there was no question that his children will receive an education including his daughters despite the Taliban despite the risks to him there was greater risk in not educating his children during Taliban years I remember there were times I would get so frustrated by our life and always being scared and not seeing a future I would want to quit but my father he would say listen my daughter you can lose everything you own in your life your money can be stolen you can be forced to leave your home during a war but the one thing that will always remain with you is what is here and if we have to sell our blood to pay your school fees we will so do you still not want to continue today I’m 22 I was raised in a country that has been destroyed by decades of war fewer than 6% of women my age have made it beyond high school and had my family not been so committed to my education I would be one of them instead I stand here a proud graduate of Middlebury College when I returned to Afghanistan my grandfather the one exiled from his home for daring to educate his daughters was among the first to congratulate me he not only brags about my college degree but also that I was the first woman and that I am the first woman to drive him through the streets of Kabul my family believes in me I dream big but my family dreams even bigger for me that’s why I’m a global ambassador for 10 times 10 a global campaign to educate women that’s why I co-founded Sola the first and perhaps only boarding school for girls in Afghanistan a country where it’s still risky for girls to go to school the exciting thing is that I see students at my school with ambition grabbing an opportunity and I see their parents and their fathers who like my own advocate for them despite and even in the face of daunting opposition like Hamid that’s not his real name and I cannot show you his face but Ahmad is the father of one of my students less than a month ago he and his daughter were on their way from Sola to their village and they literally missed being killed by a roadside bomb by minutes as he arrived home the phone rang a voice warning him that if he sent his daughter back to school they would try again kill me now if you wish he said but I will not ruin my daughter’s future because of your old and backward ideas what I’ve come to realize about ivana son and this is something that is often dismissed in the West that behind most most of us who succeed is a father who recognizes the value and his daughter and who sees that her success is his success it’s not to say that our mothers aren’t key in our success in fact they’re often the initial and convincing negotiators of a bright future for their daughters but in the context of a society like in Afghanistan we must have the support of men under the Taliban girls who went to school numbered in hundreds remember it was illegal but today more than 3 million girls are in school in Afghanistan Evanston looks so different from here in America I find that Americans see the fragility in changes I fear that these changes will not last much beyond the US troops withdrawal but when I’m back in Afghanistan when I see the students and my school and there are parents who advocate for them who encourage them I see a promising future and lasting change to me Afghanistan is a country of hope and boundless possibilities and every single day the girls of Sola remind me of that like me they are dreaming big thank you you