Michelle’s Friday Project Update: HESSO

Today, I am going to tell you about a Local Hero who is risking his life every day to advance girls’ access to education in Afghanistan.

Organization: Hode Educational and Social Services Organization (HESSO)
Location: Kabul, Afghanistan

Context: Afghanistan is one of the most challenging places in the world to be a woman. During the Taliban regime, education of girls was completely prohibited. As a result, today 85% of women have no formal education and are illiterate. Though a change is starting to take place, in many parts of Afghanistan, especially rural areas, girls risk their lives daily in pursuit of their education.

Background: GO’s Local Hero, Fulbright Scholar and UN Youth Courage awardee Nangyalai Attal, is leading the charge to ensure that girls are educated and have opportunities to create their own future. Attal was influenced by his mother who, though illiterate herself, was a strong proponent of education for him and his siblings as well as the girls in the community. Through her encouragement, Attal created a makeshift classroom for local girls in his family’s kitchen, and he has been an advocate for education ever since. Despite risks to his personal safety, he continues to work to ensure that all Afghani citizens have access to a quality education.

Current Status: In June 2016, GO Campaign approved a grant for $10,650 to HESSO to support its efforts to keep the Sheikh Yasin School, an all-girls school in rural Afghanistan, from closing. GO’s funds provided the operating support needed to keep the school doors open for one year, which would allow Attal the time to work with the government on a permanent solution. Since the grant was approved, Attal and school officials have continued dialogues with Ministry of Education officials regarding the school being incorporated into the public school system. On August 28th, Attal met with the Deputy Minister of Education who signed the request which transfers the school to the government for the 2017-2018 academic year. This ensures that the school will remain open and continue to educate girls for generations to come.

Meet Jane*
Jane is in 9th grade. Because she attends school, she can read and write. She shares that her family is also benefitting from her education. She is the “teacher” in her family. Her students are her younger brothers, sisters, and her parents; they are all good students too. She is thankful for the opportunity to learn and she hopes that her community will always allow girls to have their education.

*Due to the safety risks to the girls at school, the names and photos of the girls are being withheld.