Editor’s note: Jawzjan province is in northern Afghanistan, bordering Turkmenistan.

Five years ago I never dreamed that I would open a private school. But now I own a school where we have 120 students and there will be more in the coming year, enshallah.

I was in the second year at the university in Kabul in 2007 when the school idea came into my mind.

My mother had a private school in Pakistan when we lived there, but after 22 years we came back to Afghanistan where I finished my 12th grade in Jawzjan. I knew I had to do something that would help my family financially and also be of assistance to society. I came up with the idea of a school because we all witnessed the bad education system in Afghanistan.

At first I got a lot of promises for grants from organizations to help with the school. I was very happy and collected money and, at last, on the 9th of April 2009 we opened the school. But some of the promises were not real. We had funds for six months.

I asked help from some embassies. I was so sad because we did not want to close the school the next year. Suddenly my family members found great jobs and were able to help me keep the school open.

We continued to try to find funding for the school because my family could not help us forever. But I also realized that if we try ourselves and don’t wait for others we can get where we want.  After a difficult time we got a grant opportunity. In October 2010 I went to the United States as an Afghan businesswoman and received my first grant.

After two years, I am now managing the school and every day we have many students coming to ask for admission. It gives me inspiration and I want to do more for my province. I would like to provide free education, but can’t. We charge just $15 per month, but some students can’t even pay that.

Life can be hard, but we have to manage. In my life I have learned that if we try more than once, we can get where we want to be.

By Maryam A.

Photo taken in Jawzjan province by Susan Marx