Houston students give girls in Afghanistan a chance to learn

By Amy Davis - Reporter/Consumer Expert

HOUSTON - Students at a local elementary school are raising money, not for a new playground or uniforms, but to help girls a world away get an education.

Harvard Elementary in the Houston Heights is thousands of miles away from the Zabuli Education Center in rural Afghanistan, where young girls are risking their lives to learn.

"Some of the Taliban or terrorists, whatever you call them, they have been poisoning the girls," explained the school's founder, Razia Jan. "They have been maiming the girls."
    
Jan opened the all-girls school in 2008. After living in the United States for 38 years, she returned to her native Afghanistan to give back.
The first class of girls will graduate in 2015.

CNN named Jan a top 10 CNN Hero in 2012 for her work.

Children's author Elizabeth Suneby wrote a book about Jan's dream to educate girls in Afghanistan, most who can't even write their own name. Students at Harvard Elementary read the book.

"They were looking at how students learn around the world," explained Harvard principal Kevin Beringer. "And this was an opportunity for them to study one particular school that was just for girls."
   
Beringer brought Suneby and Jan to Harvard so his students could meet them in person.

"They've been excited all week," he said.  

The students seemed to grasp the gravity of the subject.

"Everybody should get the opportunity to go to school," said fifth grader Isabel Wabnitz. "And everyone should get an opportunity to do what they want to do. So I want to help to make sure that every person, every girl in Afghanistan gets the chance to go to school."

To help, Harvard is raising money with a school-wide International Baccalaureate action project. The Student Council and National Honor Society will coordinate efforts to  raise funds to support Razia's Ray of Hope Foundation.

Students will sell spirit bracelets, hold a read-a-thon and seek direct donations to support Razia's Ray of Hope Foundation. All of the proceeds will buy supplies to help keep Jan's school open.

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