Afghanistan and the Global Goals Organization for Prosperity
A grassroots non-profit organization is helping educate those left behind
The Global Goals Organization for Prosperity (GGOP), which develops and runs programs to build youth capacity and promote women’s empowerment in Afghanistan, was founded by myself, women’s rights activists, and government officials a few months before the republican government of Afghanistan fell in August 2021.
At that time, our volunteer team was holding seminars and live events for children and young people throughout Kabul. But when the government abruptly collapsed, for us and everyone, life soon changed. On our way to becoming an effective non-profit, we were now unable to fulfill any of our goals. Fearful of prosecution by the Taliban, due to my human rights activism, I also had little choice except to flee my country.
I will never forget the last days and hours I spent in Kabul, a city that was the last bastion of optimism for a peaceful end to the nation’s wars in the summer of 2021. I had moved to Kabul in 2018 to study at Kabul University after finishing high school in Samangan Province, some 350 kilometres northwest of the capital. As I did my best to focus on my studies, my friends and I were all hopeful that peace talks in Qatar, with the Taliban, would end well. Surely, we thought, all sides would agree to a transitional administration until elections or other choices could be made. All of us wanted to see the endless fighting stop.
However, by early August 2021, the beginnings of a catastrophe looked to be taking place all around me. From morning to night, Taliban troops waited outside of Kabul, ready to enter. Inside the city, hope was fading. On the balcony of my apartment, I observed people moving about in all directions on the street below, but seemingly without any idea of where they were going.
In the immediate aftermath of the Taliban takeover, many people had to flee because they feared retribution by the new administration. I left for Pakistan, a place I had never been to before, because I was a member of various human rights groups that had been previously threatened by the Taliban. At the time, I was entering my last semester at Kabul University, studying political science and international relations.
In Pakistan, and having had to say goodbye to my family, I spent months seeking help from organizations who assisted human rights activists looking for relocation, but it was no easy task. But finally, and to my great relief, I was given permission to come to Canada last January on a humanitarian visa for Afghans at risk.
Since leaving Afghanistan, and as the director of the GGOP, my team and I have been working very hard to achieve the organization’s goals by turning to virtual solutions. And much of my motivation to keep going has come from having the chance to live in this beautiful country and the kind welcome I have received from both the government and Canadians in general.
Today, the GGOP’s online classes are providing Afghan female students free online education and more. Thanks to a modest grant from an international organization focusing on children and youth, we have over 250 Afghan female students in grades 7 through 12 inside Afghanistan, enrolled in English, mathematics, and science courses. Our virtual school house covers the cost of their internet access while offering part-time jobs for female instructors who are also prohibited from going to university or teaching in Afghanistan.
Our team of ten, most of whom are women inside Afghanistan, are also kept busy organizing online English language competence examinations, and assisting young Afghan refugees in Pakistan apply for higher education. What is the result of all our efforts? Well, I am proud to say that we have provided hope to many and now have a growing waiting list, which speaks to the need for organizations like ours to keep doing all we can in the fight against injustice.
These days, what keeps me up at night, is thinking about how my organization can rally further support, financial and otherwise, to help more Afghan female students who are denied such a primary right – their education. Yes, hundreds of girls are learning through our online courses as I write, but hundreds more are left with little choice but to patiently wait and hope that we can pull together the resources needed for them. It can sometimes seem like an impossible task but we will not stop trying.
As an Afghan civil society activist, who now has the great fortune to live in Canada, I feel bound to help those who have been left behind. Today, young girls and women inside my country are trapped within four walls. For now, it is up to us to bring the outside world to them.