It was Thursday, the 11th of June, when I received a call from one of our friends in SOLA. She told me that on the 13th, Mr. Ted (the founder of School of Leadership, Afghanistan) had arranged for SOLA students to meet with Mrs. Eikenberry, the wife of Mr. Ambassador, and to pass their messages and any requests for improving the education system and the current situation in Afghanistan. I was surprised when I heard this. Without checking with my parents, I promptly responded, “Yes, yes, for sure I want to participate.” I was sure my parents would not refuse it.
She said, “Okay, good, I will add your name to the list of participants. Make sure you have your passport or tazkira (identity card) with your. And it will be better if you come in official
clothes. By two o’clock, all the students should be gathered at SOLA. Try to be on time.”
I thanked her and said, “I will try my best to come on time. Pass my regards to Mr. Ted.” I was so happy I was just waiting for 13th of June two o’clock!
June 12th was a Friday. We are officially off on Fridays. Finally Saturday came. That is the start of our working week. I had lots of tasks at my office. I started working hard in order to complete my tasks before two o’ clock and leave the office to go toward SOLA. Fortunately I did well, and at one o’clock I left the office, so before two o’clock I reached SOLA.
On that day, SOLA looked different. Everyone was running up and down the stairs. Everyone was busy. All the students were well-dressed and were looking so happy. I could easily see lots of hopes and happiness in the eyes of each member of SOLA.
We got in the car which was arranged for us. Our appointment with Mrs. Eikenberry was at 3:15 p.m. We arrived earlier than that. The driver stopped the car under the shadow of a tree and we waited for the appointment time to come. Finally the moment arrived. We entered the embassy! Mrs. Eikenberry and the volunteer team who wanted to welcome us were standing on our way. They warmly welcomed us to the U.S. Embassy. The embassy was nice place. It was my first time to see such a nice place with lots of kindhearted and wonderful people.
A group of embassy workers left their desks and came to meet us and sit with us. Everyone was offering ice cream, chocolates, candies and juices for us. They were trying to present their best to us. Mrs. Eikenberry was also warmly hosting us. We introduced ourselves for them and every one of those kind people introduced themselves for us. We have wonderful time together. We took lots of pictures together. We found lots of new friends there. Every student was talking with a friend. They were asking us about our studies and our work and they were telling us about themselves. All the students were, one by one, talking with Mrs. Eikenberry about the challenges and problems they face every day. I had lots of questions in my mind that I wanted to get answered, and I had lots of comments and messages I wanted to pass on to Mr. Ambassador and Mrs. Eikenberry. She appreciated my comments and answered my questions.
She was a very kind woman. She carefully listened to us. I had some specific suggestions, such as providing scholarships for students and good monitoring of funds which are for reconstruction of Afghanistan, especially funds for improving the education system.
Our education system is very weak. Most funds which are allocated to be used to improve the system are used to build schools. But unfortunately, it’s somehow usual that most of contractors who want to get the project give a bribe. When they get the contract, unfortunately, they are not building the schools based on standards. They are just thinking about how to reduce costs. It really hurts when we see the schools that start falling down after only few months.
The other problem is that sometimes schools receive money to be built, but no building happens; it is just on paper. These things really hurt us, but we are not at a stage to take action. I thought I should pass these messages on to the Ambassador, because they are at a stage that they can take action. The youth of Afghanistan don’t want funds allocated for improving the education system to be misused.
Mrs. Eikenberry promised they will focus more on the education system in Afghanistan; she said they are trying to work on educating the young generation of Afghan people because they are the only ones who can really help their society. She also said they are trying to reduce the attacks on civilians day by day.
That day was a big achievement for me. I never thought an Afghan woman who was under a burqa and unable to go outside alone would one day find the ability to stand in front of an Ambassador and talk with him. This shows that Afghan women also have the strength and ability to stand on their own feet. Afghan women can also take part in the renewal of their country; they only want to be given the chance. If the world wants to assist Afghan women, they should work on their education. Only a well-educated Afghan woman will be capable of taking the hand of other women and helping them stand.