Architects' Rendition of GK School
It gives me great pleasure to let you know that the new school Sahar has been building in Mazar-i-Sharif, Gohar Khotan, is now open and providing education to about 3,000 girls of all ages. I attended the opening celebration on June 2 and was delighted by the festive atmosphere, the attendance of high-level leaders from the Ministry of Education, the local government, and local tribal organizations, and the enthusiastic presentations of the principal, teachers and students.
Gohar Khaton’s architectural innovations are likely to be copied in many other schools in northern Afghanistan. Designed by an international team of architects, the building features exceptional structural integrity (including the highest level of earthquake protection), adaptation to the local environment, use of inexpensive local materials, utilitarian spaces, and low maintenance--all that in a building that I can tell you is simply stunning to look at. Sahar will certainly be using what we have learned from this effort as we continue to build school structures in northern Afghanistan.
More important than the structure is the girls who will be educated at Gohar Khotan. They aspire to be journalists, doctors, computer scientists, teachers, artists and more. Their spirit is reflected in the words of one student who participated in the art festival that engaged the students in decorating the school.
“I am a young artist and I had the opportunity to come to this magnificent girls' school to be part of something much larger than myself. For twenty days, I participated in an artists’ training about how to take my own artwork and paint it on one of the walls at the new school. I never thought I would have this opportunity. I believe art, and especially art by girls, can help heal the wounds of war.” Tahira, student at Gohar Khotan.
I am also pleased to tell you that we are preparing to open two more of Sahar’s popular computer centers for girls, one at Gohar Khotan and the other at another girls' school in Mazar-i-Sharif, Sultan Razia and led by an energetic Afghan woman with whom we have worked on other projects. And the teacher training center Sahar supports remains very popular with the older girls from many of the rural areas who are striving to become the teachers of the next generation of girls in Afghanistan. There are 256 girls in attendance now, and another 140 waiting to be admitted.
I hope the above conveys at least a little of the high level of excitement for girls’ education I have been witnessing during my visit. Yes there are security concerns, but girls’ education is alive and well in northern Afghanistan. Your donations make that possible. Thank you so much.
Painting Artwork on the Walls at GK School