Children’s & Youth Education
We believe that every individual has the right to a good education, and truly it helps to create firm foundations from which an individual can grow. Although children’s education statistics are improving in Afghanistan, there is still a massive shortfall of students attending primary and, in particular, secondary education. In the latest UNICEF statistics, it was reported that, between 2005 and 2010, only 66% of boys and 40%, of girls were attending primary school. Even more shocking was that only 18% of boys and 6% of girls were in attendance at secondary level.
With education such a key component of community development, we feel that much work must be done in order to improve these statistics. So far we have worked to improve the access and level of resources available within poor areas of Afghanistan. We have helped to build new school buildings and libraries, and also assisted in the provision of resources.
The problem in the past has been that communities rarely see the tangible benefits of education. As seen in the earlier statistics, the majority of primary students don’t continue on to secondary education at all, and thus many question the necessity of education in the first place. By providing the most gifted students with scholarships, we help them to realize their full potential, while also inspiring other members of the community to seek a full education.
Personal Story of Madina
Madina is a beautiful and talented 11 year old girl who was picked up from the streets of Sharenaw, and brought into the supportive arms of Gulzad Foundation’s Women’s Bazaar Program.
From a young age she has had to bear the burden of running her household, which now consists of 2 sisters and 5 brothers, the youngest not even a year old, and being the second oldest, it was her and her brother’s sole responsibility to feed everyone in their household. Her father, an elderly man, is barely able to make enough income to sustain himself, let alone his family.
At the age of 6 Madina began begging on the streets of Foroyshka. This was the only means she and her brother knew of earning money for their family. After construction in the area forced them away, they moved to Sharenaw instead.
At first they continued begging, but the boys in the neighborhood would beat her and her brother up for invading their territory. In desperation she negotiated with them, and came to the agreement that she would sell their products; bracelets, necklaces and other things, and split the profits with them. There were days when her and her brother would leave home at 5:30 in the morning and return at 10:00 at night. She was a true hustler.
Becoming part of the ‘Women’s Bazaar Program’ was not an easy transition for little Madina. She was accustomed to being on the streets for somewhere between twelve to thirteen hours a day. However, as time progressed she began to see the benefits that the program could have on her and her family’s lives.
She enrolled herself in to a private school, and the Gulzad Foundation sponsored her to partake in both English Language and Computing courses. She once again learned how to be a child.
The mere thought of the program ending brings tears to this beautiful little girl’s eyes. The ‘Women’s Bazaar’ has given her a whole new life. The thought of not having her business anymore is unimaginable. She has learned to become an entrepreneur, a student, a child, a role model for her siblings, and more than anything, she has learned to live life with hope for a positive and sustainable future.
Interview with Madina
I met Aunt Storai and Aunt Sweeda in Sharenaw one day. They wanted to make a deal with me, and told me that if I stopped begging on the streets, they would help me to establish my own business.
At first I didn’t understand this, because I had always thought that a business was something big, and with a huge office. All the expensive cars that drive by, with the men wearing nice suits, were businessmen for me. I didn’t understand at the beginning how I could be like that, but still I agreed because I wanted to give it a chance.
This program taught me what business really was, and how it was possible for me to run my own. They gave me some products to sell at the beginning, but later on, I bought my own out of my profits, and was running the business all by myself. It is so easy, either you manufacture your products or buy them cheap and sell them expensive, what stays in between is profit.
I started going to a private school. I had never even gone to any school before. Now I am so happy to have friends, and be the same as other kids. Life is so different now.
Yes, before when I used to beg on the streets, I made less money and my family was always under stress. I felt pressure to provide more for them. Now there is so much joy and happiness in the house. My siblings too can now afford to go to school, and this makes me proud. I don’t want them to beg, I want them too to have their own businesses one day.
Yes, I work just as hard as them and I have exactly the same capabilities, so why shouldn’t I be treated the same? I believe I deserve the same amount of respect as the boys. Gender doesn’t tell you how the character of a person is, only what sex they are.
I want to become a Paediatrician, because I want to help others, and as I have eight siblings, I know how difficult it can be to be able to visit a doctor, especially for a poor family. I would treat them for free, so that all children could at least have their health if nothing else.
Our commitment to education is a long term one, and continuing from the success of our scholarship scheme, we hope to support a further thousand individuals. In addition to this, we will continue to work with business partners both in Afghanistan and overseas to collectively support schools with new buildings and resources.
Child and youth Sponsorship
We currently have a number of young girls and boys, aged from 5 to 16, who are supported by our program, and we are focused on increasing this number in the near future
You can assist us in supporting Afghanistan’s young people by sponsoring a child, and in doing so give them the opportunity to receive the level and quality of education they deserve. Not only that, but too your help will assist them with materials, training, and a number of other basic needs that can truly give them a platform to grow. 100% of the money you donate will go directly to supporting your individual child, and we will manage the process to ensure that he or she receives exactly what they need to develop a sustainable future.
As a basic requirement to them receiving our support, they are required to attend school regularly, where they must learn English, and also partake in at least one sporting activity. This means that they are no longer on the streets, and are working very hard towards obtaining good school results, as well as developing socially also. We keep in contact with their schools, and assess their progress on a regular basis. All of their school reports and results are kept on file, and thus you are able to observe the progress of your sponsored child, and ensure that your money is truly making a difference.
We hope to expand this project in the future, and encourage more of Afghanistan’s youth to become active within both school and their community.