Friday, 1 May 2015

May 1st 2015

Dear friends,

I would like to introduce you to Zahra and Nikbakh (photos below). These two Afghan women deserve our respect. You can read in their faces the dedication they demonstrate in the face of endless hurdles a deeply patriarchal society throws at them. Some of you helped a year or so ago when you made donations to help these women become teachers. You may remember I ran a couple of marathons to raise some of the funds needed to enable these two women to attend a teacher-training course. 

Mir – the protagonist of my Afghan films – went to a small school in his remote mountainous village and if it was hard for him and the other boys, it was far harder for the young girls. I couldn’t leave without trying to do something for them. It has not been easy organising this and I would never have managed it without the selfless support of Melanie Bradley at Afghan Appeal Fund and my film-maker friend Shoaib Sharifi. It took us time to find two women who were in a position to travel to the northern city of Mazar to receive training and then bring those skills back to Mir’s village. Eventually Shoaib found them: Zahra and Nikbakh. It’s just two individuals but for the young girls now growing up in the village it will be transformational.

Both women have been back from Mazar and in their holidays have begun teaching. Equally good news is that the school has built a new additional block just for girls – giving them more space and facilities. The village as a whole is delighted to have better education for its young girls which is one small demonstration that Afghan culture is not universally anti-women’s schooling. 

To remind you: parents don’t mind their daughters being educated but, as they reach their teenage years, it is culturally unacceptable for young girls to be taught by men. The school needed female teachers. Indeed, every school in Afghanistan needs female teachers. So thank you to those of you who made a donation. If we all do one small positive thing every day, it does make a difference…..

For my part, I had to pull out of the 2015 Brighton marathon as I hurt my Achilles tendon but am now in training already for the 2016 marathon. We continue to fund the teacher training – and would like to do more – so please, any donation helps, just follow the link to my Just Giving site here

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