Sunday, 27 April 2008

25th April - Sari Sang

A glorious sunny day. We had been invited to Sari Sang village to meet a family and interview their daughter. Sari Sang School is twinned to St Catherines School in Bramley and lies in a very conservative area of Northern Afghanistan. It is a testament to the gradual, painfully slow improvement for the opportunities for girls.

We met the headmaster at the school, which sadly, was shut for the day as it was a Friday. He showed us the school well, which, since my last visit, has dried up, leaving the 550 girls there with no access to water during their school if the wonderful James Moberly is reading this blog then a huge thank you ---he ran the marathon for Afghan Connection and wants to build wells with the money he raised---I was able to promise them water.

We walked through the village, through manicured fields, down mudwalled paths and over irrigation channels and streams, passing donkeys and farmworkers and giggling children on our way. We arrived outside a village house where we met Nargas—the 13 year old girl who had agreed to be interviewed. Her father was with her and I thought him incredibly brave, allowing us to interview his daughter in such a conservative village. But we still had to be incredibly sensitive and certainly couldn’t film the women of the village.

We sat in a lovely shaded quadrangle outside their home and started asking questions. Nargas was so composed. She talked of her life in the village, her aspirations to succeed at school, to graduate and her one wish---should she be allowed anything in the world, was to be a doctor. She talked of the childhood terror of war, of the Taliban coming and bombing her village, of fleeing to a village far away to stay with distant relatives, where there was not enough to eat and she missed her home.

Her school had been shut down for 2 years by the Taliban and she had been without an education throughout that time, but had never given up hope that she would get back to school. Her short life had held so much and her will to do well and to succeed and to help her country was humbling. She asked us for just one thing ---for water for her school.

I was led into the house after the interview—the boys were unable to come in as they cannot see the village women. I was greeted by dozens of smiling women and children, taking my hand and showing me around their home. One room had been made into a school room where one of the daughters held English classes for girls. It is so hard for these girls and their determination to further their education is fantastic.

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