Thousands of Afghan children who have been traumatized by violence have found a way to deal with their anger and sadness through HTAC's peace education program. Sharifa, a seventh grade student at Sorya Girls School in Kabul, is one of them.
Sharifa told us that before enrolling in her school's peace education class she was extremely quiet, withdrawn and unresponsive. Sharifa's teacher and classmates didn't know it at the time, but Sharifa had been severely traumatized by a family tragedy during the rule of the Taliban.
Sharifa and her family were traveling in their car to Mazar e Sharif (in Northern Afghanistan) when their were stopped by Taliban officials at a highway check point. The Taliban ordered Sharifa's father to get out of the car and go with them, without explanation. When her father asked why he had to go and what he had done, the officials began beating him. Despite pleas from the family, they continued beating him until he lay dead beside the road. Sharifa, her mother and siblings had just witnessed his murder.
Through stories and role-playing, the peace education class helped Sharifa get in touch with her sadness and depression, allowing her to grieve for her father for the first time. Sharifa's classmates (each of them with stories of their own), told Sharifa they loved her and made her feel that she was not alone in her grief. Her teacher made it a point to spend time with Sharifa's family as well, and letting them read "The Journey of Peace" books.
Today, Sharifa is more outgoing and excels in the classroom. Although she will never forget her painful memory, she has been able to move on with her life.
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