Angela Ghayour was only 8 years old when the Taliban took control of her country and told girls they could no longer go to school.
It was 1992, and she was suddenly isolated from her peers amidst the civil war raging in Afghanistan. Her family fled the city of Herat and went to live in Iran, where she still couldn’t go to school because her family didn’t have the right visas.
After five long years, Angela’s father got the right paperwork, and she finally went back to school in Iran. But she was no longer content to merely absorb the education herself. Instead, at just 13 years old, Angela found a way to spread the knowledge further.
Every day after school, she gathered a group of about 14 other Afghan children who still couldn’t attend classes. She shared with them every lesson she learned that day, helping teach them when no one else would.
When the Taliban was finally taken out of power many years later, she went back to Afghanistan and became a teacher. She now lives in Brighton, England, but she has never stopped working to educate Afghanistan’s young people.
When the U.S. pulled out of Afghanistan 20 years later, the Taliban again took control and mandated that any girl over the age of 7 could no longer get an education. Angela didn’t wait to see whether they would someday lift these “temporary” restrictions. Instead, she launched into action to create an online school to keep kids learning in spite of the major setback.
The Online Herat School currently helps about 1,000 female students stay current on their studies via Skype or Telegram. The teachers, many of whom live in Iran, are all experienced professionals who are volunteering their time. So far, more than 400 teachers have joined their mission!
“I feel this school is the result of all of my pain, my agonies, and experiences,” Angela explained. “Our motto is, the pen instead of the gun.”
Education gives power to the powerless, and Angela and her army of volunteers are determined to give these girls a fighting chance. More proof that wherever there is darkness, we can always find light — and if we can’t find it, we can be it.
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