The Zabuli Education Center is built on the historic site of a former boys’ school. The gift of a beloved Afghan king in the 1930s, the original building was all but destroyed by 30 years of war and terrorism. The new three-story building is located in a relatively safe area within walking distance of seven villages. The school opened its doors in March 2008, and now provides free education to more than 400 Afghan girls who were previously denied educational opportunities. Students range in age from four to twenty-two. The curriculum is both academic and practical, taught by experienced, native teachers.
The Zabuli Education Center was founded by Afghan native Razia Jan through the Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation. Razia’s dream of a school for girls became reality through the collaboration of several extraordinary women — as well as the vital support from generous organizations and the hard work of staff and volunteers.
“We opened a school for girls in Afghanistan to help break the cycle of poverty through access to an education in a very poor area,” says Razia. “By providing these girls with an education, we are giving them a ray of hope to protect them from the vicious cycle of poverty, malnutrition, and hunger.”
Named for the late Abdul Madjid Zabuli, a businessman and philanthropist who was committed to improving education in Afghanistan, the Zabuli Education Center is located 30 miles outside of Kabul in the district of Deh’Subz. This district is comprised of 46 villages, with a total of approximately 100,000 residents including a large number of nomadic families.
The name Deh'Subz translates to “Green City,” an apt name for a mountainous area vibrant with grape vineyards and apricot, peach, and almond orchards. Agriculture is the most important source of income in Deh’Subz. (The road leading to Kabul city is rough and unpaved; only 2%–3% of Deh’Subz residents commute to Kabul for work.) The stability of farming has been severely affected by sporadic drought. Water is a major problem in the district, with two unusable wells and the war-related destruction of water pipes and agricultural irrigation.
Deh’Subz was heavily affected by the Afghan-Soviet war (1979–1989), which resulted in the devastation of many villages, including 80% of residential housing. Today, approximately 40% of housing has been rebuilt, but many families could not afford to rebuild and live with relatives or in tents. During the Taliban regime, the area remained calm except for fighting along the frontline near Kohi Safi, but the people of Deh’Subz complained much about the tyranny of the Taliban.
Today Deh’Subz is experiencing slow regrowth, including the government-backed development of 20,000 residential homes, but there is tremendous work ahead in order to provide just the basics of life and dignity to a people who have suffered from decades of war, oppression, and poverty.