Summer School in Khogyani District

With funding from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), from December 2017 until the end of 2018, WADAN implements Education Cannot Wait (ECW) in six districts of Nangarhar Province: Khogyani, Surkhroad, Behsood, Shiwa, Kama and Rodat.  The overall goal of this project is to provide safe, free, and good quality education including 10,000 out-of-school host community children, including returnees, and the aged 3-18 year-old children of internally displaced people (IDP). Education Cannot Wait also focuses on children with disabilities to provide them with an equal learning opportunity.

Nangarhar Province has one of the hottest most humid climates in Afghanistan; schools are usually off during the sultry summer season. However, in collaboration with WADAN, the Directorate of Education (DoE) and the community

elders, the ECW teachers agreed to keep the Community Based Schools (CBS) open in the summer of 2018.Despite the fact that ISIS militants killed school guards in Khogyani District in June 2018, the teachers there are resilient and they also wanted to send the message to terrorists that education cannot wait.

Lahoor Khan, father of Sekandar and Nazifullah, father of and Homayoon, CBS students in Khogyani District, are pleased to see their sons in school. “Our children were running around in the sweltering heat of summer wasting time every day. Keeping track of children wandering here and there throughout the village was in fact a headache for us,” they said.

To make it possible for the students to make good use of time and perhaps to catch up on work they had missed because of unfortunate circumstances, WADAN staff members spoke with the community-based schoolteachers. They agreed.  Ms. Zaheda, a dedicated teacher who has provided a room in her home for a

Classroom said, “Even though we live with insecurity and threats in general to education and especially for female teachers and schoolgirls, it gives me a lot of pleasure to teach my pupils, I enjoy my classes.”Classes in the early morning hours are comfortable for both the children and teachers. The students are busy during the day but of course they have time for recess. Ms. Zaheda said, “We have time for fun and exercise as well as for cultural and art activities.”Parents are happy to see their children busy with their studies and Ms. Zaheda was equally enthusiastic and said that in future summers she would encourage her friends and colleagues to volunteer to teach summer school in Khogyani District.

Rabidullah and his Parents are Grateful

With financial support from Education Cannot Wait (ECW), WADAN implements ECW in six districts of Nangarhar Province: Khogyani, Surkhroad, Behsood, Shiwa, Kama and Rodat.  The goal of this project is to provide safe, high quality, and free education to 10,000 out–of–school children, including returnees, internally displaced people (IDP) and host community children aged 3-18. ECW also focuses on children with disabilities to provide them with an equal learning opportunity.

In October 2017, Rabidullah was displaced from Nangarhar’s Achin District. In Achin, he was in Grade 4 at Teko School. Fighting between ISIS, Taliban, and the government troops destroyed this 12-year-old’s life. Living in Shaheedan Village refugee camp in Jalalabad is harsh and painful. So far, the government has provided no educational facilities.  Before ECW, Rabidullah was worried about his future, “I suffered; I had lost my home, my classmates and my teacher, and was left without a school, class, or books,” explained Rabidullah.

The only teacher in Shaheedan Village is Mr. Rafiqullah, the camp’s Mullah, who teaches children the Holy Quran in the mosque. The ECW Needs Assessment identified these children, including Rabidullah, as deprived. Through ECW, a community based school will be established in Shaheedan Village. Rabidullah and his parents are happy to know they will have an opportunity for their children that include teachers and books. His mother said, “I thought that our children’s future had been destroyed and lost forever. I could not imagine that my children would find a place to learn. This is a very remote area; an isolated, rugged desert without government facilities. However, this program has revived our hopes and will help build our future. We appreciate UNICEF’s efforts to educate our children. Otherwise, we were certain that our children would have been deprived of their right to education.”

WADAN’s ECW team has encouraged community activists – educated youths, Mullahs, and community elders to volunteer to teach classes until the ECW Program starts in April 2018. Mr. Rafiqullah, the first volunteer, said, “I will start teaching these pupils to read and write and will mobilize others to dedicate time to teach the camp children.”

One Woman Needed: A Biology Teacher

With financial support from Education Cannot Wait (ECW), WADAN implements ECW in six districts of Nangarhar Province: Khogyani, Surkhroad, Behsood, Shiwa, Kama and Rodat. The goal of this project is to provide safe, good quality and free education to 10,000 out–of–school children, including returnees, internally displaced people (IDP) and host community children aged 3-18. ECW also focuses on children with disabilities to provide them with an equal learning opportunity.

The dearth of female teachers, particularly for Biology, was the main barrier preventing girls from attending school at the Hisar Shahi refugee camp in Rodat. The ECW Community Mobilizers held needs survey meetings with Maliks, community elders, parents, and religious leaders to solve this problem. They acknowledged that it was the lack of a female teacher to teach Biology in the school that was most problematic in getting girls to attend school. “In conservative Afghan culture it is considered inappropriate for a male teacher to teach girls subjects such as Biology that involve images of body parts and terminology that only a woman should speak about to girls,” explained a Malik in a meeting with WADAN’s team. Rana, a ninth grade student at the school confirmed this problem when she said, “ Girls need a female Biology teacher.”

A timely direct result of the needs survey was that the Community Mobilizers searched for and hired the female Biology teacher in order to encourage girls to attend classes regularly. When she about the new teacher Rana responded, “This will encourage 40 girls to resume classes. We all thank WADAN and UNICEF for helping us.”

Ms. Paria, the new Biology teacher in Hisar Shahi Camp School has studied sciences, including Chemistry and Biology at Nangarhar University and is happy with her new position. “Teaching these girls is a wonderful opportunity for me. I am also happy to see that many girls are encouraged to resume their classes when female teachers are available.”

Education Cannot Wait

Displaced from troubled Achin District, these girls now live in Shahidano Mena of Ghazi Amanullah Khan, the name of their newly established IDP town that has neither shelters nor schools.

From December 2017 until the end of 2018, intense work is ongoing in Nangarhar Province to provide good, safe and free education to 10,000 children. They come from families who are internally displaced, returning from refugee status, and unschooled host community residents. Special consideration is put on serving children with disabilities whose needs are often neglected in difficult circumstances.

Nangahar Province borders Pakistan near the famous Khyber Pass. Six provincial districts are included in this UNICEF funded project: Khogiani, Surkhroad, Behsood, Siwa, Kama and Rodat. Education Cannot Wait (ECW) staff members work closely with communities to overcome the hardships of warfare, poverty, lack of infrastructure and social barriers that affect all children but especially prohibits girls and handicapped children from attaining even a basic education.

ECW includes pre-primary through secondary schoolchildren; each will receive a school kit with level-appropriate contents, including books, notebooks, pens, and geometry boxes. With project funding, ten community based schools (CBSs) are established and 150 teachers hired for the year. Also, 50 portable latrines and 50 clean drinking water tanks are included as supportive infrastructure. In addition, WADAN encourages community involvement through volunteerism; the intention is to promote education through civic action.

Story of Sunbol

My name is Sunbol. I am a 35 year old mother of two daughters and a son. I married a man with the consent of my parents but we did not have a happy marriage. My mother-in-law and sisters-in-law always argued with me over simple things. Eventually our marriage ended and I returned to my parent’s house. I was so worried about my children’s future. The only family member who sympathized and understood me was my brother who was addicted to drugs. To gain some relief I would share drugs with my brother once in a while, and became addicted in the process.

My mother worked in a restaurant where she met a person who was looking for female employees. When I applied for a job through my mother and she informed the employer I was a widow. One day he called asking if I would see him; I met with him and got a job. He became a family friend and after sometime purposed to me; I agreed to marry him.  I have a daughter with my second husband; however I desperately missed my children from my first husband. I was so depressed that I secretly started using drugs again in an attempt to get over the situation.

My husband quickly learned the secret. He took me to WADAN’s treatment center and I quickly recovered. Now I feel healthy and strong. I am so thankful to WADAN’s medical staff who took good care of me. Now I am taking tailoring classes in a center. I call upon all the drug addicts to enter a treatment center as soon as they can so they can regain the social standing they deserve. I tell them it is never too late to end their addiction.

Story of Fareshta 

Fareshta is 55 and a mother of four. This is the story she narrated to us about what happened to her eight years ago:

One night Taliban broke into our house killing my husband and my son, who were the only earning hands in my family. I had no choice but to go out and look for a job because I had a family to support and had to pay for the house we had rented.  Finally I got a job on a poppy growing farm. One day I had pain all over my body so severe that I could not go to work for several days. The farm owner sent a message asking what had happened. Upon arriving at the farm I explained to my employer the reason of my absence. He gave me a small piece of opium saying it would immediately kill my pain. That little piece of opium made me addicted.

One day a WADAN treatment center outreach team in our province visited my house and assured me that I could end my opium addiction if I was willing to use their services in the center. I was admitted to the center for 45 days. I became a normal person again. The medical staff in the center took good care of me. I am so grateful to them. I have a happy life with my children now. My mission now is to encourage other addicted women to take advantage of this opportunity.

 Story of Gul Bibi

“I was only eight years old when my mother put me to work in a carpet weaving center in Peshawar, while we were living there as refugees. We were very poor and suffered many hardships. My instructor was a kind person. I spent five years with her learning how to weave carpets and became a skilled weaver. I was interested in gaining more skills but my mother decided to return back to our country.”

“Upon returning to Afghanistan I opened a carpet weaving center in our village and soon became locally famous. Four employees worked for me and over time my business grew bigger. After a while I had severe back pain. With one of my employees I went to a clinic in our town to see a doctor. The doctor on duty examined me; we fell in love with each other during the examination. After couple of weeks the doctor proposed marriage to me through his family members but my mother and brothers refused us. He proposed quite a few times and each time my family refused. My mother wanted me to marry my cousin but I did not like him. I was so depressed. I did not know what to do.”

“Two years later one of my employees with whom I had shared the story recommended trying opium to see if it would give me some relief. She told me I would forget all my worries once I used a little bit. I was desperate so I gave her one thousand Afghanis to get me some opium. As soon as I used it I felt like nothing had happened; I forgot all my sorrows. I did not know it was only temporary relief, and then I could not stop using it; I became addicted. When my family learned of my addiction they started mistreating with me.”

“One day a neighbor informed my mother about the women drug treatment center in Jalalabad City. Eventually an outreach team came to our house. They encouraged me to go with them and enter the center. I stayed at the center for 45 days. By the grace of Allah Almighty I became a normal person again. I am so thankful to the staff at WADAN’s treatment center for their support.”

 Story of Jamila

Thirty-one year old Jamila has lived a life of neglect and misery; her story is full of suffering and despair. Born to a poor family, at three years old Jamila lost her father in the intra-party conflicts during Jihad against the communist regime. Her mother raised her and two of her brothers.

Jamila was still a child when she was married to her cousin; it was not a happy marriage. She lost her first baby as a result of family disputes which subsequently led to divorce. Two years later she married an older man who had been using opium for 20 years and had recently started smoking heroin. He was a poor man and Jamila did low wage housework to earn the family’s livelihood.

Drug use was common in their town. Whenever Jamila got sick neighbors would recommend opium as a medicine or painkiller. Due to lack of access to health facilities her only choice was to use opium, and due to her husband’s addiction access was easy. It did not take long for her to become addicted. Now a mother of two boys and two girls Jamila had been using opium with her children and husband for 12 years.

The family lost everything paying for opium. Jamila says their sole focus was obtaining opium. Nothing else mattered until she attended a women’s gathering in her town where WADAN trainers provided information on the harmful effects of drugs on people, families, the economy and social life. She says, “That meeting was a turning point in my life.” She entered WADAN’s children and women drug treatment center. “Now by the grace of Almighty Allah I am a normal and healthy person and keep myself away from those who are addicted to drugs. Time and again I visit the center for a routine check up and we all have a happy life,” she says.