LFT Afghanistan – Sakina’s Story
Sakina’s Life Story – A girl attending the LFT-supported “Learning & Activity Center for Girls” in Afghanistan
I am Sakina daughter of Mohammad Baqir. I was born in the Nahor district of Ghazni province of Afghanistan. I am currently living in Kabul. I started going to school in my village in the district. When I was a teenage girl and wanted to go to school, there was no school in our village so we started studying in a ruined house yard in the open air with no learning facilities which was formerly used for keeping livestock. With no school building, inevitably we studied there for our first and second grades. After some years, the local residents built a secondary school building in the village with the help of a foreign organization. When the school was constructed there, I had just finished my third grade in classes in the open air.
The situation evolved in a way that made us decide to move to Kabul city. Now, as a family which had settled in the city and grappled with the challenges of new life, we were looking for ways to continue our education. Thus, I sought admission to Kateb Private High School but I was not admitted to continue my education at the school. Thereafter, in the face of economic problems and difficulty paying fees, I had no other way but to join a public school “Sayed-al-Shuhada” where I was not required to pay fees. I started again my formal education in the school in grade three. This school also had problems like lack of learning facilities, classrooms, and good teachers all of which adversely affected our learning process. It is, unfortunately, a harsh reality in Afghanistan that public schools most often do not provide quality education.
On the other hand, the lack of classrooms is still a serious problem for students. For example, we conducted our classes in tents and took carpet or a piece of cloth from our homes to sit on because there was no chair. So, as a girl from a poor family, I endured all these problems and continued my education in school until grade eight. Last year, I was in grade 8, and in the middle of the educational year Kabul fell and education got disrupted for all instantly. But, after months of waiting, schools reopened for girls but only under grade seven (girls were banned from going to school beyond grade six which has still not changed). Due to this ban, my sisters and I were confined at home since school closure.
In May 2021, a series of bombings stormed Sayed-al-Shuhada high school in the highly impoverished neighborhood of western Kabul in an afternoon while girl students were leaving their classes and the school campus, killing more than 100 girls and wounding hundreds more. This attack hit the whole community very hard and killed schoolgirls from families who had sent their girls there just for not being able to pay their fees. The attacks and their aftershocks impacted hundreds of girls psychologically and put them and their families in serious trouble. After the attack in which many families had lost more than one of their beloved ones, the majority of girls were experiencing mental problems which caused them to even quit school.
I am one of those who got injured in the attack from my right arm which I am still suffering from. At the time I am writing this, I cannot imagine that day and what I saw which brings a tear to my eyes. I cannot explain my feelings about the incident because I can’t bear it. But, what I can say is that these kinds of attacks cannot stop us from going to school and continuing our education. Personally, my determination is still resolute enough and I have promised that I should never stop learning.
After I remained at home for almost a year following the ban on girls’ education, I was feeling so sad, depressed, and hopeless. But, some months ago, I heard that there is a charity organization that provides a learning opportunity for those girls who cannot go to school. This way, I joined the Lady Fatemah Trust (LFT) –a supported learning center in our neighborhood. It has been months since I have attended the center and have learned so many school subjects such as mathematics, chemistry, physics, and English and gained new skills and abilities to enhance our learning, know and get along well with friends and class fellows and improve both our social interaction and mental wellbeing. Similarly, we are being provided with sufficient learning materials, and stationeries that are of great help to us during this difficult time.
Moreover, we are having a drawing class at the center which has helped us develop drawing skills and foster our creativity. This program has changed our mental condition by providing a whole package of learning and fascinating, invaluable experiences. I am seeing a significant difference in myself since I joined the center. It is a unique program in our community and means a new window and opportunity to us that gives us hope. In the end, I thank the LFT very much for supporting our education and helping us get through this time. We are very happy and making progress in our learning which is vital for our formal schooling once restarted. I hope the LFT continues its support and such kinds of programs for afghan girls who are truly vulnerable.