It takes more than pencils and textbooks to be a schoolgirl in Afghanistan these days. It also takes tremendous bravery and tenacity. While Afghan girls are theoretically free to attend school, they are stymied at almost every turn by militant attacks, a lack of adequate facilities and teachers, and even their own parents’ reluctance to break from the tradition that says “girls belong at home.” Millions of girls have entered school since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, however their status as students is threatened by the deteriorating security situation and the international community‚ focus on stabilization and counter-insurgency rather than on long-term development.
Trust in Education (TIE) is supporting those Afghan girls by building schools and supporting after-school programming in art, science and physical education. They tackle with work on a grassroots level, their Afghan staff working directly with the local population, and that is why I decided to work with TIE. Without much infrastructure or overhead, a substantial percentage of dollars donated directly impact programming on the ground. My work with TIE put a face on their projects, most for the very first time. I visited projects and villages, documenting the organization’s current work as well as the condition of schools and classrooms in target areas. Traveling to remote villages, unannounced and anonymous, witnessing the girls’ enthusiasm underscored for me the great risk the students and teachers take everyday, and the passion and dedication with which they push forward from the repressive Taliban-era to modernity.