Friday, April 24, 2009

Report From Kabul

It's 3:33 am in Kabul, time to fill you in on yesterday's meeting with several of TIE's teachers. None have been threatened by the Taliban.That is very good news! In some areas, educating girls is a capital offense.Their main problem is capacity. Two teachers don't have enough room inside their homes to teach all who would like to attend. Both requested funds to expand their living rooms. Their request, like all the others I receive during my visits, has been added to "the wish list".

We then discussed the subject of class size. Farzana laughed and said "what should I do", "I have 49 students in one of my classes". I asked whether it would be better to find another teacher, rather than expand her living room. She wants smaller classes but I'm sure she knows there will be some serious lobbying by parents if we opt for the two teacher solution. Farzana is the most energetic, inspiring, and dedicated teacher I've met so far.

If you will recall, when I first met Farzana, we spoke for about a half an hour. I was sitting on her living room floor, surrounded by her students. At the end of our conversation she looked straight into my eyes and said, "Now I be a man. How much are you going to pay me"? I felt cornered and was forced to look away. Somehow I managed to escape without negotiating her salary in the middle of her adoring fans. I knew right then, however, that Farzana was exactly what the girls needed, whatever the cost.


Lailuma, a leader among the women in Lalander, came separately with her husband. She has for the past two years met opposition from her husband's uncle, a village leader (malik). Why? Because his daughter had been teaching competing classes inside his home. His daughter, however, only has a third grade education. He recently approached Lailuma and said that he could obtain funds from another NGO (non government organization), and asked her to work for him. She refused, telling him she liked working for Trust In Education and that we had been good to her and the villagers. An Afghan woman does not easily refuse the requests of a malik, particularly when he is her husband's uncle.

Earlier, I was taken aback when I saw Lailuma and her husband, Sardaragha, walking toward our office. She was walking at least 15 paces behind Sardaragha.She waived to me from a distance, uncovered her face, and when she was close enough reached out to shake my hand. These three movements are inconsistent with the code of conduct that requires her to maintain her distance.

As they were leaving I told Sardaragha, in front of Lailuma, that when they walked home he should walk 15 paces behind Lailuma. We laughed and Lailuma said, "Budd, he supports us". They both left laughing, walking side by side to the gate. I suspect outside the gate Lailuma resumed her "rightful place". Lailuma may walk 15 paces behind but Sardaragha would be the first to admit that in many ways she is way ahead.

Lailuma, Sararagha, and son

More to follow.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Assuming Farzana is teaching English, I suggest that she join, a website full of suggestions for teachers.

Ahad Shahbaz