We are just about to conclude our fourth year of school. In the spring of 2008, when we first opened our doors, 80% of our students had never attended any school and were not able to read or write. As all of the girls were of different ages, the only choice we had was to admit them according to age. The highest was fourth grade. This year, that first group of fourth graders are finishing seventh grade and should move up to eighth grade for next term. But to everyone’s surprise, most of the seventh graders want to skip eighth grade altogether. They want to take an extra set of exams in the spring so that they can move on to ninth grade. These girls are doing exceptionally well, and are driven to learn. This class is not alone. A few brave students from sixth grade want to skip seventh grade and go straight to the eighth grade. And some of the fifth graders want to jump to seventh grade.
For the adults and teachers who support these students, this is an amazing, wonderful development. We are thrilled to give these girls a chance to excel. I am so proud of our students and teachers.
This level of success is a direct reflection of all the support that you are providing to our teachers and students. I have no words to thank you for what you’ve done for our girls, our community, our future.
Our 2011 winter classes at the Zabuli Education Center are in full swing! This marks the beginning of our fourth year.
As our classes and the number of our students continue to grow, this we face a big challenge. This year we have to accommodate two new classes: kindergarten and seventh grade. We will need to divide our conference room. For the coming year, we will have over 300 students. We just ordered 21,000 new books for our classes.
I am looking forward to this spring, as we are planning fundraisers to raise enough funds to build four new classrooms. Hope is the foundation of our dream! If you can, please help us continue to educate Afghan girls — their future, and ours, depends on our success.
On December 18, we launched a new session of winter classes at the Zabuli Education Center. To our surprise, every single one of our students enrolled in the program. We need new books and notebooks to accommodate our winter session. We also have to equip three more rooms with stoves. We're delighted by the continued enthusiasm of our students. Can you help?
Together, we are more than a drop in the pond.
November 2010 marks the third anniversary of the Zabuli Education Center — that’s three years of real education and caring for our young women. We started with 160 girls attending up to the fourth grade. Next year we will double the number of our students to over 300 girls, now being taught up to the seventh grade. We started with six teachers and now we are able to expand to twelve — themselves young, educated, and now independently employed Afghan women.
Who would dream that we would be making such progress in this country troubled by war, so regularly regarded in the media as a hopeless cause? Some might say what we’re doing is just a drop in the pond, but I believe girls’ education is the best and most vital solution to this country’s problems.
We already have 300 or so reasons to hope, and we’ll add more every year: they’re called kindergarteners! Together, one at a time, we are changing these girls’ lives forever, and in turn we will affect their families, communities, and together with schools and institutions like ours, perhaps the whole country.
We’ve made some nuts-and-bolts progress this past year as well. As you may know, we had wooden walls surrounding much of the school, which we felt was not entirely safe. With your help we built stone walls. Also with your help we were able to obtain a school van that provides safe, dependable transportation to our teachers from Kabul to our village of Deh’Subz. These are small, and yet big, steps and you made them happen.
I have a unique and trusting relationship with all of you. I try with my heart and soul to keep that trust. Our foundation is an open book. If you’re curious and want to know more, or to participate somehow, you are always welcome.
We have gained tremendous new support and friends due to the head of our team in the US, Patti Quigley, Executive Director. Her dedication and vision for the future of our foundation is incredible and comforts me greatly. With these accomplishments and promise for the future, I pray every moment of the day that these girls are given the opportunity to realize their potential. Believe me: with our help, these drops in the pond are going to make big, beautiful, oceanic waves. (Which is just what a landlocked country needs!) Please support our cause. Thank you dearly.
The second year of the Zabuli Education Center has ended on a positive note. We did not experience any violence, rocket attacks, throwing of hand grenades, or kidnappings. It’s a very scary situation for little girls; there’s a lot to worry about on a daily basis. There is a sigh of relief after each day passes without incident.
This year we had 250 girls in kindergarten through fifth grade. Most of them did well and will move to upper classes. Next year we will have a sixth grade.
The regular school year has ended, but we will continue with winter classes. These classes are offered to a select group of students. We will have three groups and they will be taught English, math, and Dari. This program will end before the official start of our third year of school.
I personally thank all of you for supporting these precious little girls so that they might have great futures. We’re depending on them — and to do that, we’re depending on you.
We recently held our midterm exams for students in grade one through grade five. It took two weeks to complete both oral and written exams. The only class that was exempt was the kindergarten, but for those two weeks we made sure that our littlest students maintained their regular schedule.
Two weeks after the exams were completed, everyone received their report cards. When the kindergarteners realized that they were not going to receive report cards, the little munchkins demanded to have their exams and report cards. Their pleas were so heartfelt that we had to accommodate their request. Teachers began to administer oral exams to the kindergarten class. It took two days, and then the students were given report cards — which were laminated, just like the report cards of the older girls, after being signed with the signature or thumb mark of their parents.
Our kindergarten students have demonstrated their determination to be treated like everyone else at school, and that they are not afraid of working hard. We’re proud of these students, and how they exemplify the spirit of the Zabuli Education Center.
You are watching a miracle unfold in front of your eyes. It is a real journey that these girls are going through: from ignorance to knowledge, from repression to freedom, from darkness to hope. We all welcome you to see and learn about the first girls' school outside of Kabul in the village of Deh'Subz (which means green village). Two-hundred and fifty beautiful, quiet, adorable, and charming girls 4 to 14 years of age are enjoying a taste of learning and the freedom of being a child — and forgetting the hardship and hunger for few hours. It is a great accomplishment in a short time. I hope that you will become part of this beautiful journey, hand in hand with our dream, sharing the hope.