Global Education

Hosseini shows support for women’s education in Afghanistan

By Denebola
Published: December 2007

By Julia Lytle

For hundreds of years, women and young girls living in Afghanistan have had to fight for the opportunity to attend school, something that many people living in the United States take for granted.
Disapproval from the Afghan government and the Taliban have caused women all over Afghanistan to fear attempting to achieve an education. Over 700 schools throughout Afghan provinces have already been burned while under the control of the Taliban.
Yet the nation is starting to take notice and campaign for change. Leading the movement for accessible education for the women of Afghanistan is Razia Jan, a native Afghan woman who is now living in the United States.
Jan moved to the United States in 1970 to complete her education, and eventually made the move permanent and became a citizen. Jan now has a grown son, and has opened a dry-cleaning and seamstress shop in Duxbury, MA. After living in the United States for thirty years, Jan has remained connected with her homeland.
Even today, she is constantly working to improve Afghan relations with American soldiers stationed in Afghanistan. Jan collects supplies of clothing, food, and other things needed by the struggling population in Afghanistan. She then sends the supplies to the US Army to give to the Afghan people themselves. Included in those supplies were over 30,000 pairs of shoes for Afghan children that Jan collected in her dry-cleaning shop.
Jan, with the support of the Duxbury Rotary Club, has been collecting money for the past two years to build a new girls’ school in Afghanistan. The Zabuli School for Girls, named after one of its largest contributors, Abdul Majid Zabuli, will be located in the village of Dah’Subz, right outside Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul. Jan expects the school, which will have eight classrooms and will be large enough to house girls from ages four to 16, to be completed later this winter.
Jan will be traveling to Afghanistan in January to begin furnishing the school, and to recruit new students. Many families, however, will be hesitant to send their daughters to school. Jan and her organization will try to quell the families’s fear by guaranteeing protection for their daughters and a safe place for them to learn.
At the first fundraiser for the school in 2005, an appearance by well-known author Khaled Hosseini, who wrote Kite Runner and more recently A Thousand Splendid Suns, helped Jan raise almost $50,000. Hosseini, also a native Afghan, gave a speech about his homeland, and its struggles, and signed books. Earlier this month, on December 2, Jan held her second fundraiser benefiting the construction of the school. Hosseini once again made an appearance, and discussed the issue of women’s education in Afghanistan, which is discussed in A Thousand Splendid Suns. Also included in the program were a performance from award-winning Afghan singer, Ehsan Aman, and traditional Afghani folk dance and food.
Hosseini’s support has greatly increased the awareness and support of Jan’s project. Despite controversy that he may face, Hosseini has exposed people all over the world to the problems being faced within Afghanistan. In his first book, The Kite Runner, Hosseini told the story of a young boy forced to leave his home because of the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan. The book is was recently made into a motion picture, which opened recently on December 14. The movie features songs by Aman, who performed some of the same songs at the benefit earlier this month. Problems have come about in Afghanistan, however, because of controversial actions made by characters in the movie. Actors have been targeted and threatened, and were eventually removed from Afghanistan altogether.
Despite disapproval from people all over their country, both Razia Jan and Khaled Hosseini have came together this past December, for the second time, to raise money to give Afghan women the chance at an education.

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