Kabul, Feb 22 (EFE).- Sodaba Nazhand was one of the thousands of students whose higher education came to an abrupt halt after the Taliban returned in Afghanistan with their policies to curb women rights.
However, Nazhand, 20, seized the opportunity to offer a ray of hope to dozens of underprivileged Afghan boys and girls.
She started a free teaching center – albeit on a Kabul street since she had no resources to set up classrooms.
“As the recent political and government developments changed the scenario for female education in Afghanistan, I started to help the children who are deprived of the education and use my knowledge and education for them,” Nazhand told EFE.
Apart from the closure of state universities, some of which opened earlier this month, the Taliban takeover of Kabul on Aug.15 last year triggered a deep economic and humanitarian crisis that forced many poor children to beg.
Nonprofit Save the Children warned in a recent report that around one-fifth of all Afghan families had been forced to send their children to work due to the extreme poverty affecting the country.
In such a scenario, Nazhand decided to not be a mute spectator and convince the first few students to gather at a park in the Afghan capital to learn how to read and write, later extending the classes to “religion and mathematics.”
“Seeing the children begging or working, spending their most valuable time on the street and growing up uneducated was very tough for me,” she said.
She now teaches around 30 students, including eight girls, who regularly show up at her daily three-hour classes, despite difficulties due to the Islamist regime’s regressive approach towards women that requires women to be accompanied by a male family member on the streets.
“I lost my morale and it was difficult for women after strict rules of the Islamic Emirate,” Nazhand said, narrating how she managed to continue with the help of her family and due to her resolve to educate the children who have nobody to take care of them.
The children often lack parental care and are forced to work to survive, which made the educator’s work difficult and she had to combine the two needs of the children.
Knowing that it would not be possible for the children to attend her classes for too long because “they needed to work,” Nazhand bought them some tools like shoe-cleaner kits so that they could stop begging.
After paying out of her own pocket for the resources like study material and notebooks, the educator has received donations from some institutes.
The class has had an impressive impact on the children’s abilities.
“I am from Afghanistan and I am studying in this class. I want to become a doctor in the future and we want a place to study,” Bahara, 9, who was unable to read or write just a few months ago, told EFE in English.
Similarly Najiba, 6, narrated how she was selling pens when Nazhand encouraged her to join her classes, which have helped her learn how to count and read over the past month.
Afghanistan has repeatedly figured among the worst countries for children due to a prolonged conflict that has led to multiple economic and humanitarian crises.
Nazhand appealed to the international community for aid so that the children’s lives do not worsen further.
“I request the international community to support and stand with Afghanistan, as Afghans – especially children – have been going through one of the worst situations,” she said. EFE