Meet Razia Jan

Afghan born Razia Jan moved to Duxbury, Massachusetts in 1970, where she ran a small tailoring business, and served as President of the town’s Rotary Club. Following the September 11th attacks, she arranged to send 400 home made blankets to the Ground Zero rescue workers and went on to organise the sending of 30,000 pairs of shoes to Afghan children.

Razia then set up the Ray of Hope Foundation, raising money to build a school for girls in Afghanistan, and in 2008 moved back there to run the school.

Razia and the school have faced numerous difficulties and threats, the same day it opened another girls school in Kabul was attacked with hand grenades, killing 100 of the girls.

Before her school opened Razia was visited by four men who gave her ‘one last chance to change this school into a boys’ school, because the backbone of Afghanistan are our boys,’ to which she replied ‘Excuse me. The women are the eyesight of Afghanistan, and unfortunately you all are blind. And I really want to give you some sight.’

Winner of numerous Rotary Peace Prizes, and now nominated as a CNN Hero, Razia and her staff continue to provide education to girls in Afghanistan, hopeful of creating a more equal society and a better future – one girl at a time.


Photo from The Ray of Hope Foundation

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  1. Lorna Prescott says:

    This reminded me of an interesting book I read recently about Greg Mortenson, who also strives to provide schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and he specifically talks about the importance of education and schools for girls. The book was suggested by a friend in my group, and as a very practical woman she was rather exasperated by Mortenson’s lack of planning, whereas I was more interested in what shone through about working with local knowledge and expertise. Here’s a link to the:

    It’s great that people like Razia are out there doing this, and so sad that they do so in the face of such adversity.

    • Lorna – I’ve read Three Cups of Tea, and later also encountered the recent controversy about it.

      Wikipedia summarise the debate here –

      I believe it went to court, but that ultimately the various claimants dropped their cases against him.

      Obviously I’m in no position to know the truth one way or the other, but overall I don’t think it detracts too much from a very interesting and motivating story.

      I haven’t read his latest book yet: Stones into Schools . . . it’s on the list :o)

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