- Obama hosting annual Easter Egg Roll
- Big Bang a big question for most Americans: Poll
- Jimmy Carter’s grandson: People have right to sport Confederate battle flag license plate
- Supreme Court issues no ruling on case challenging N.J. gun law
- Sharyl Attkisson: Media Matters ‘clearly targeted me’
- Sherpas consider boycott after Everest avalanche
- Democrat Rep. Stephen Lynch on Obamacare: ‘We will lose seats’ this November
- Syria to hold presidential election on June 3
- People will be safe at 118th Boston Marathon, Mayor Marty Walsh says
- Boy Scout, 12, killed by rolling tree during troop outing at Washington park
Afghan girls flourish in new school
NOW ZAD, Afghanistan | Zarmina and Sharifa have very big dreams for very little girls.
One of the sisters from the Now Zad district of Helmand province wants to be a teacher; the other wants to be a doctor. And thats understandable. Both saw their first teacher and doctor only recently, and neither had ever imagined before then any kind of life beyond farming, child-rearing, cooking and menial labor.
“Our mother and father told us to come,” said Zarmina, who thinks she is about 11 years old. “We didnt go to school before, because there was no school.
“We like this. We are learning things. Its safe, and were not afraid to come here,” she said.
The two are among the 100 to 200 children attending classes every day in a school started in an abandoned building by U.S. Marines and their interpreters after Taliban gunmen were expelled from the town in early December.
On the first day, only about 80 children showed up. Five of them were girls, whom the Taliban had forbidden to get an education. On the second day, attendance was nearly 200 children younger than 13 and just two girls. Now the number, although it fluctuates each day, averages more than 100 boys and 20 girls who walk to class from villages as far as four miles away.
“It was chaos on the first day,” said Master Sgt. Julia Watson, who handles female engagement for the civil affairs team working with the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines. “The building was packed with yelling and talking kids. So the first day was instilling discipline and order.”
She added, “They are all excited about learning to read and write, and many want to learn English also.”
The classroom at Now Zads school is just a large room in what was once the district government center on the edge of town. The school has no chairs for the children, just frayed rugs on the damp and dusty concrete floor. It has no lighting or heat.
The children are divided into four groups. The girls make up their own group in one corner of the building.
“We divided it because we only have four teachers,” said Mansur, the newly hired school principal. “The girls are separate because in our culture, we dont do coed activities.” Mansur, like many other people in this northern area of Helmand province, uses only a single name.
Mansur said children are taught first-grade-level reading, writing and arithmetic, but he hopes that in time theyll be able to complete lessons up to a fourth-grade level. The few books that the school has came from the United Nations via the Marines. The Marines, with the help of troops’ care packages from the United States, provide supplies such as pencils and notebooks as well as bags filled with games and candy.
Teddy bears and other stuffed animals sent to troops from U.S. schoolchildren were given to Zarmina, Sharifa and other girls.
Basic toiletries such as soap, toothbrushes and skin moisturizer are periodically sent home with the children as well.
The Marines interpreters taught the classes at first. Within two weeks, however, four men in the district with teaching experience were located, were convinced that Now Zad was safe and were hired at $6 per day.
About the Author
TWT Video Picks
Women losing coverage under Obamacare, too
- Tactical advantage: Russian military shows off impressive new gear
- USAID documents cite Hillary Clinton in chaos of Afghan aid
- Twitter blocks accounts critical of Turkish government
- Former Ranger breaks silence on Pat Tillman death: I may have killed him
- Scalia to students on high taxes: At a certain point, 'perhaps you should revolt'
- Special Forces' suicide rates hit record levels casualties of 'hard combat'
- Jimmy Carter's grandson: People have right to sport Confederate battle flag license plate
- Feds approve powdered alcohol; 'Palcohol' available later this year
- America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds
- CURL: Shelly O first lady Michelle Obama comes in last
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.