Ellaha is a seventh grade student who attends school in the Paghman District of Afghanistan, about 30 miles west of Kabul. Recently, Ellaha was introduced to HTAC's peace education program. This is her story.
"My name is Ellaha, daughter of Mohammad Yousuf. I am a student of grade seven at Paghman Girls High School and I wanted to share the very positive impact of peace education in my life and the life of my family.
I have three brothers. They are all married and we all live together. The conflicts between the wives of my brothers went on almost daily, creating such tension that my mom and dad were exhausted- physically and emotionally. My younger sisters and I were often terrified over these conflicts. The shouting and abuse was almost unbearable. The wives had no way of communicating with one another in a respectful manner and my brothers unfortunately did not know how to intervene. Life was horrible at home.
Luckily, during my first week of school, one of our teachers came to our class and announced a new program. It was called 'peace education'. At first, what this class could teach me so I was cautious about it. I did not want to get my hopes up too high. However, as the weeks went by, I was surprised at the many positive things I was learning about in class. Most importantly, I learned the skills of non-violent conflict resolution, which we practiced in class. Soon, I became quite good as a mediator and in fact, I was asked by my teacher to be one of the few peer student mediators for the program where I would help my fellow students peacefully resolve their differences. This made me feel happy and accomplished.
One day, I decided to try my mediation skills at home. I found an opportunity to talk with each of my brother's wives (when they were not busy fighting) and explained to them there was a better way to resolve disagreements. At first they did not believe me. One of my brother's wives even laughed at me. You are so young, she said. What can you teach me? But eventually, I was able to change her opinion by helping her and another wife resolve a very bitter dispute. Afterwards, she came to me and gave me a hug. Thank you, she said. I'm sorry I didn't trust you. I made her promise she would use the steps of non-violent conflict resolution the next time she was having a problem.
Within a couple of weeks, all the violent arguments had stopped. Yes, there are still problems and disputes, but they are handled in a calm, respectful manner where everyone uses the same approach. My brothers' wives now treat me like their sister and my parents look to me as the official family mediator. I express my gratitude to HTAC and its supporters for such a useful program."
HTAC is helping students like Ellaha learn the principles of peaceful everyday living and changing their lives for the better.
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