The teachers of the Vocational Training Centre
Principal Adela, literacy teacher
As well as being a mother of five children I am a teacher, too, who saw black days in her life, having been beaten several times by the Taliban during their period. But I never stopped my work; I continued to struggle all the time, fighting for the education of illiterate women.
I graduated from Surya High School in Kabul in 1986. From 1997 to today I am a teacher of illiterate women. I am proud to be a teacher of women who have much pain inside; I am friendly with my students, this help me to be close with them, and the students feel confidence to share with me their stories and the problems they are facing. Most of the time I give them suggestions how to behave with the men who create problems for them, how to struggle and defend their rights in a legal way.
I had a literacy center at home during the Taliban Regime, but the classes were underground. With much fear students wore burqas coming to the class; some of my students were followed and beaten by Taliban. The students told me if they guessed that Taliban followed them they changed their directions several times. One day the Taliban followed the students without their knowing, at when they entered my house they started abusing us and saying harsh words to the women. I was screaming that these are my guests, but they said: "Are you teaching your guests?" They started beating me and the students, tore their books, and took my 12 year old son to jail. They warned me: "If we find you with the students again we will not accept any excuse; we will put you to death." There was a bad noise from all of us weeping and screaming; some students were badly injured. After this happened I locked my house from inside and the students came to the center late at night.
Literacy teacher Fahima
I am a mother of nine children who are drifting in a boat on an ocean which has no island, waiting and wondering for the future of my beautiful children, what will be their future?
I lost my husband in 2003 due to a sickness which he faced. But since that time I promised to struggle and keep up my resistance, to show my children that you have not lost your father, but your mother is playing the role of both mother and father, and I am trying to do what I have promised my children.
Beside all difficulties that I am facing, for example homeless, financial problems etc, I send all of them to school. I am trying to provide them with all facilities that a child of their ages needs, but no one can understand how I could do this, only God knows my problems and the life I am passing through. I smile at my children to show them that everything is okay, but I am crying inside. I wake up early in the morning doing several works in order to cover more or less the expenses of the children.
I graduated from Nasima Shaheed High School in Khewa Refugee Camp in Peshawar, Pakistan. After graduation I worked as a teacher in the same school for some time. After I came back to Afghanistan I worked as an employee of a Peace Reconstruction project. It is now about four years that I am teaching in OPAWC's Literacy Course. I am happy to work in this organization as I observe that they are working to save and bring changes to the lives of poor women like me, and also I am happy to teach women who are the most important part of society but the most forgotten ones. I am proud to say that I have graduated 240 women through OPAWC and they learnt how to read and write and they feel changes in their lives during these four years. This was my goal, to support my people, especially women, in any field that I could.
I am thankful to the leadership and members of OPAWC. They support me whenever I faced bad days, their good and kind attitude towards us make us work more actively day and night, honestly. I wish that all their goals and desires come true.
Literacy teacher Fatima
Fatima left the Vocational Training Centre in August 2013; see the note at the end of her biography.
I am a mother of six children. My husband is alive but he is mutilated and stays at home. He studied up to grade 8, he loves education and was previously in Maidan Wardak Province just west of Kabul.
I graduated from Surya High School in 1984. After graduation I started working to train new teachers in the Teachers' Institute. We migrated to Maidan Wardak during the Civil War. We had a bad life there. There was no food to feed my children, drought and poverty on one hand and war on the other hand had trapped us. This was not the only problem I was facing, another problem was that a widow got in love with my husband, which created many problems for my family.
Because of these problems I could not stay at home and I moved to Kabul with my three small children. Here in Kabul women were supposed to wear the burqa, as it was the Taliban period. I wore my burqa and went to the Ministry of Justice. I asked the Minister: "I need to work to feed my children, I could not steal, I could not beg in the streets, I am an educated woman, and I want you to provide me a job." After the Minister took my examination he hired me as a Pashto language teacher for the women's prison, where I taught women how to get rid of their troubles and get out of prison. At that time it was a crime for women to go out without a male family member, for this reason I was supposed to take my 10 year old son with me to work.
Most of the Taliban spoke Pashto, they could not talk Dari (Persian). I was supposed to be their translator as well. As I was working with them I translated for them but I was trembling and very afraid while translating , might not a mistake happen and they might take me out of work, which I needed desperately. 10 years of my life passed in this way.
After the situation in Kabul got better we moved back to Kabul and now live in a destroyed, rented house with no electricity. I sent all my children to school, and they are educated now, while I myself continue my holy job of teaching.
OPAWC is the only reliable NGO gathering forlorn women under one roof and teach them, support them to stand on their own feet.
Literacy teacher Fatima has left, after a long period of deliberation and doubt, to take a job with better pay at one of the many private literacy schools. OPAWC managed to replace her with new teacher Rahima, who also knows some English and can possible help with English teaching.
English teacher Susan
Susan is no longer teaching at the Vocational Training Centre; see the note at the end of her biography.
I am a lonely girl who has no one in her life. My mother died because of cancer and my father died in a sudden heart attack. I was left with difficulties of life along with my sister and three brothers, who are younger than me. I finished my studies with lots of problems; in the morning I used to go to school and university, in the evening I had to work somewhere to earn money to feed my sister and brothers. I had to work at home, too. I woke up early in the morning to finish the house work and hurriedly went to school and university. It was difficult for me to do all these works, but I never stopped, I struggled on with every difficulty I faced.
I graduated from Marefat High School in Kabul and received my degree from the English Department of Kabul Education University in 2009. I also studied at the midwife institute in Abo-Ali-Sina for two years.
To find support for solving my problems I became engaged with a young man. Unfortunately he is not the one I wanted, he behaves in very bad ways, one day he is okay but the next day he is too harsh and does not even want me near him. This is my bad luck; I don’t know what to do? Should I marry this man or not? I am sure my life will not be better if I marry him, but I have to, because in our community it is very bad to divorce. I want to do my masters degree if he permits me to study for two more years, till that time I will see how he has changed. I hope I will be successful with this struggle and hope my future is better.
Susan is not teaching at the Centre any more. From her biography it is clear that she had a very difficult life and her outlook for the future was already clouded. One of her brothers went into the army to help the family and earn some money and decided to be located in Kandahar, where the pay is $1,500 per month. He was killed in July 2013. After that Susan could not see any hope in her life. Her engagement was also broken off. OPAWC tries to help her, reminding her of her responsibility for her sister and other brothers, and is trying to find her a part-time job. (September 2013)
Literacy teacher Rahima
I am Rahima, my father's name is Abdul Hafiz, and I was born as a middle level child and am 22 years old.
I completed my basic and higher education at Sultan Razia High School, graduating with grade (A). I passed the Konkor Examination (Iranian university entry exam) and after that I found an opportunity to continue my higher education in the Sayed Jamal-e-deen Institute, where I studied social studies and graduated successfully.
Now I live with my parents. My parents did not receive an education, and we have a lot of financial problems. We were living in very bad conditions during the war in Afghanistan but never emigrated to any other country. My uncle was a police officer; we lost him during the civil war (1992 - 1996) in Afghanistan.
At the moment my father is at home without work. My mother was working as a cleaner in a school and now works as a cleaner in an office. My mother has a heart problem and other health issues and cannot continue her work much more.
Now I am married. My husband's name is Muhmmad Yama and he has no job as well. My son was born last year.
It is very hard to cover my financial expenses, but now I work at OPAWC 's literacy centre as a teacher in the Literacy Course.