BARTLESVILLE, Okla. — While thousands fled Afghanistan for a new life, including hundreds coming here to Tulsa, one woman visiting Bartlesville this week is working to help those still there — specifically girls in school.
Razia Jan immigrated to the United States from Afghanistan in the 70s. When she went back after 9/11, which was her first visit in more than 30 years, she noticed a discouraging change for women.
“What I saw was the girls were suffering so much," Jan said.
That led to Jan starting Razia’s Ray of Hope.
She raised money for a school for girls in a rural village about 45 miles outside of Kabul. It opened in 2008 with about 100 students. Thirteen years later, they have about 800 students and are still growing — even now offering a midwife program.
“There are about 40 girls that will work within those communities, helping women and the children who are born," Jan said of the midwife program.
Things changed in August when the Taliban took over in Afghanistan. Girls were out of school until certain "security" measures were in place, like being separated from the boys, which isn’t a problem for Jan's all-girls school.
The kindergarten through 6th-graders were able to return to school in September and they’re hoping the 7th through 12th-grade girls can go back next week.
“I think the changes might come with the regime change, but I’m willing to accommodate them, the Taliban, so my girls can go to school," Jan said.
She says she plans to return to Afghanistan to visit the school soon. She hopes to even meet with leaders of the district to ensure the girls can keep learning.
“Giving them an education has really proved something to that community, that it is worth giving girls an education," Jan said.
Jan is in Bartlesville this week, fundraising with the Bartlesville Daybreak Rotary and sharing her mission, which is now more important than ever.
“Just to give them, continue giving them an education and make it possible for them to become something one day," Jan said.
There's a fundraiser for Jan's school in Bartlesville on Friday at 6:30 p.m. at the Timber Oaks Event Venue. You can also donate and learn more on the Razia's Ray of Hope website here.
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