July 21, 2023 society

Days that marked Afghan girls’ lives

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Picture by: LLLEV | Flickr

There are days in everyone’s lives that they mark the most regardless of being good or bad. Five students of the journalism learning project at Harbingers’ Magazine – Shanhaza (17), Swita (16), Zainab (13), Naziya (13) and Zohra (17) – interviewed each other to find out about the days that impacted them the most.

August 15, 2021 – the day that the Taliban took over Afghanistan – touched Shanhaza’s teenage years the most. It marked the end of education, amongst other rights for girls and women in Afghanistan. During this period, everyone “just thought about escaping”, leaving their hopes and dreams in the past. Shanhaza with her family escaped from the city to their hometown. On their way, they witnessed people running and shouting in the streets. “It was a very bad day for all the people”, she highlighted.

Learn more about this project:

‘Girls go missing, schools are closed down, teachers persecuted’

Afghan activist Pashtana Dorani fights to keep underground schools for girls open despite Taliban restrictions

 

by Sofiya Suleimenova

A memorable day for Zainab was her first day of public school in 2016. “It not only signified the beginning of a new academic journey but also marked a major transition in my life”, she said.

While some classes were challenging, Zainab was still filled with joy to embark upon this “fresh educational journey” and ready with the help of her welcoming teachers and classmates to overcome obstacles that she might face. Throughout this day, she experienced various emotions: at first, “the fear of the unknown and the pressure to adapt” and then “the excitement of new opportunities and the warmth of newfound connections.’’

Zohra experienced many good days and some bad ones too, but the one that marked her the most was her first journalism class organised by LEARN and Harbingers’ Magazine. This opportunity was significant because it is a field that she is very interested in studying. She shared: “They make our dreams true”. This day offered her hope for the future of all Afghan girls. Upon reflection, Zohra said: “There is nothing impossible. We can have these chances of studying our favourite majors, it doesn’t matter online or in other ways. It’s important that we have this chance.”

Swita’s graduation from LEARN marked her the most, especially her achievement of being the third-best student in the class. The school provided her with knowledge of a web design program among other skills. Despite the hardships that the Afghan population is facing, her teachers at LEARN never gave up and continued their lesson “in every situation”. To celebrate this significant chapter in a student’s life, “a small ceremony” with family, friends and teachers was held.

The day that marked Naziya’s life was the day that she moved into her new house. This change provided her with not only a better home and her own room; but also a space to “study better, concentrate on [her] goals, and strive for academic excellence.” Moving into a new neighbourhood gave Naziya an opportunity to study English at a nearby learning centre. “English is the language I needed to learn to pursue my dreams and achieve my goals,” she said.

When asked about the advice she would give to those facing similar challenges, she advocated for seeking out opportunities that can help you reach your goals and to always keep your dreams close to heart.

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OXSFJ & LEARN Afghan Project

Zainab, Shanhaza, Swita, Naziya, Mahwa and Zohra are learning journalism as part of joint efforts of the Oxford School for the Future of Journalism and LEARN Afghan.

Under the scheme, six Afghan girls aged 13-17 attend weekly journalism classes in English with OXSFJ’s instructors Sarah Hussain and Tatev Hovhannisyan.

The project is a trial aimed at researching and developing a curriculum answering the needs of underserved communities around the world and allowing them to safely contribute to Harbingers’ Magazine.

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Sofiya Suleimenova

International Affairs Section Editor

Geneva, Switzerland

Born in 2006 in Barcelona, Spain, Sofiya currently studies in Switzerland. She aims to study law, preferably in the United States. In her free time, Sofie practices karate – she won a silver medal for kata and a bronze in sparring. She speaks French, English, Russian and Spanish.

She started her collaboration with Harbingers’ Magazine as a Staff Writer. In 2022, she assumed the role of the International Affairs Correspondent. Sofiya created and manages the collaboration with LEARN Afghan organisation, under which teenage girls from Afghanistan receive free education in journalism and English. In recognition of the importance of this project, in September of 2023, she was promoted to the role of the International Affairs Section editor.

 

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