Behnam, Imani and Adeeb discuss their three-year field experience as itinerant teachers in Nai Qala schools
“We are three teachers who all worked with the Nai Qala Association (NQA) for 3 years. We travelled and helped hundreds of girls during these three years. We went to 6 different schools and students came from over 50 villages to attend our classes.
The goal of our program was to help girls to get into university or any higher education. Even today in Afghanistan, the quality of education is still low and is a challenge. This is even more challenging in the rural regions as well as for students in such areas. Furthermore, for girls it is even more challenging. We are very proud to help those girls and give them hope.
We were tasked by NQA, but once we went to those remote regions without any phone connection, we did not need to be supervised by someone from NQA. We did our job with commitment. For us, the motivation was created by NQA leadership. We worked under very tough circumstances in those very remote regions.
We were not only teaching the students, but we worked also socially with the parents and elders. We talked about the value of education and why it is important. We took our time because these regions are veryundeveloped and had never had such things explained to them. The communities also took these messagesvery seriously as our contribution was very concrete and visible. We talked positively about their abilities and how they should believe in themselves.
In some cases, when we identified some girls who had greater difficulties with their lessons or even did not attend our classes, we took our time to walk for hours to meet their parents to discuss and explain why their daughter had such difficulties or encourage them to allow their daughters to come to school. It was much appreciated that someone would even “bother” to think about their children. But for us, this was a normal duty for our country to do it and make our own minimum contribution.
We created such a positive atmosphere that students started to be rarely absent or not at all. The children became very motivated to attend school.
Another very important point was that we contributed to the local economy of those remote regions. The communities used to send their children to towns for extra tutoring in their school subjects. This program was not only important for the students but particularly for their parents as they could save money by not sending them to town. Our program was of the same quality as those in the towns. Furthermore, the students got higher marks in class.
These 3 years helped us to learn how to be disciplined and take responsibility. This mission was the biggest learning of life. We learn more when we are challenged. Our mission was extremely challenging, and this was important. Sometimes we had to wash our faces early in the morning, at temperatures of below 30 degrees. We had to break the ice in order to get to the water. These were the moments when we thought we could not carry on. Then we would see the girls arriving after an hour’s walk in such cold weather, with their frozen scarves around their necks. That was the moment that convinced us to remain and help those girls… this is the reason for our motivation!
Finally, another important point was that we discovered another province, that was even more isolated than our own. We also realized how another province can be beautiful with its culture and tradition, how they live with dignity and pride in spite of extreme poverty.
We shall remain loyal always to NQA and its vision for Afghanistan and its strong belief in change and hope for those girls in those isolated areas… “
Behnam, Emani and Adeeb
Editor’s note:After three years of serving the Nai Qala Association, Behnam, Emani and Adeeb have chosen to return to a more sedentary life. They have obtained state teaching positions in their home region.