WellesleyWeston Magazine

FALL 2013

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

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The Chance to Go to School the case of the fictional Razia, having to convince potential students' families to allow the girls to come, and, more importantly, to stay, is not uncommon. But Razia's strategy is working. When the school "It is a real journey that these girls are going through: from ignorance to knowledge, from repression to freedom, from darkness to hope." opened its doors, 80 percent of its 160 students could > Razia Jan not read. Today there are 400 students, all of whom are literate or well on their way. Initially the school went through fourth grade; today it extends as an asset to their families. Formal studies through 9th grade; the hope is that it will eventually go through 12th grade so that graduates include Dari, Pashto, English, math, health will be prepared to attend university. One prominent Afghan family recently moved from the and hygiene, geography, science, history, and capital city of Kabul to Deh'Subz so their daughters could enroll. Knowing that the Zabuli how to read the Koran. As part of their learn- Educational Center offers the best education around, a local boys school asked Jan to take over ing about the history of their country, Jan their management; she declined, as her heart is with the young girls, however, she does, wisely, plans field trips for the girls to visit some his- provide them with supplies to improve their program. toric sites in nearby Kabul. For most of the One of the first things Jan has the girls learn is how to write their fathers' names. Many of the girls this is the first time they have ever ven- students' fathers are illiterate and this simple exercise helps them see their daughters' education tured outside their village. On the first trip she planned, only 20 parents out of 200 permitted their daughters' attendance. This last trip, 26 percent agreed. Many of the girls say that their day in Kabul was the best day of their entire lives. "We are watching a miracle unfold in front of our eyes," Jan explains. "It is a real journey that these girls are going through: from ignorance to knowledge, from repression to freedom, from darkness to hope." Like any journey of significance, there are bumps along the way. The oldest students are at a point where their education may rub up against strong cultural traditions, like We l l e s l e y We s t o n M a g a z i n e | f a l l 2 0 1 3 arranged marriages, which often means getting married young. One ninth grader was recently betrothed to a 70-year-old man — it was part of a transaction; her father wanted to marry the older man's 16-year-old daughter. (CONTINUED ON PAGE 105) 100

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