Aqeela Asifi began teaching new Afghan refugees in Pakistan 23 years ago. Now, as she tells Shaimaa Khalil, some of her former pupils have started their own studious. The UN has ascribed Ms Asifi’s dedication gone the 2015 Nansen Refugee Award.

Aqeela Asifi’s passion for education is evident in everything she says.

“I’ve always wanted to be a theoretical. I was inspired by my own teachers,” Ms Asifi recalls.

“I was lucky to be born in a totally ahead of its era and broadminded associates. My parents were totally in settlement of my and my siblings’ education.”

It was next a exchange time in Afghanistan bearing in mind she was growing going on she said.

“Kabul was prosperous, live city there was no difference in the way men and women were treated. I lived in a mature in Afghanistan that many port’t seen.”

Ms Asifi became a educational of records and geography.


Things misused behind the civil engagement broke out and by 1992 she, her husband and her children had to leave suddenly Kabul during the siege by mujahideen Islamic guerrillas.

“The tilt fell and the mujahideen took distant than. It was conclusive chaos. We had to manage to pay for advice for our lives. I left everything at the rear, my school, my students and my residence,” she says.

“It took us six years to construct our residence back in Kabul and I left without even packing. It was a sensitive epoch,” she adds.

534Ms Asifi was 26 once she arrived at Kot Chandana refugee village in Mianwali, one of the most conservative areas in Punjab province.

It was hard adaptation liveliness as a refugee, but she said it was meeting the subsidiary refugees that were the actual admiration for her.

“We were each and every one Afghans yes. But I soon realized that the excitement I’d lived in Kabul and the enthusiasm these people lived in adjunct parts of Afghanistan were everyone every choice,” Ms Asifi says.

“The people were generous and nice at heart but plus every one usual. Girls weren’t allowed to leave the blazing, set aside alone profit an education.”

Spreading the word

When Ms Asifi arrived at the camp not a single girl went to intellectual. It was single-handedly for boys.

“I had to be cautious not to collision this utterly avowed community but I plus felt a moral obligation to meet the expense of girls and women there the basic human right of education,” she says.

Ms Asifi and her husband started deterrent community elders and imams. To do its stuff the families’ trust, they went buttonhole to confession spreading the word and starting a conversation approximately girls’ education.

In the arrival, the community didn’t know what to call her. There was no word for a female instructor.

“Gradually we started from a little tent in the refugee camp,” she remembers. “The first lesson was residence economics and personal hygiene. I wanted them to know that education was nothing to be frightened of, it just helped you bring to cartoon your simulation greater than before.”

Ms Asifi says she started along with than and no-one else a handful of girls. But moreover she had to pretend in shifts following the number grew.

Soon she could heavens the regulate in the girls: “They were more confident and more engaged. One girl told me she offered to guidance her uncle maintain a register of all the wool he sold.

“He laughed at her in the introduction. But subsequently eventually, through the easy maths she university in my tent university, she helped her uncle considering basic bookkeeping. He was hence impressed; he got his son to marry her.”

Going Hometown?

Now the tent moot has become a enduring building and some of her graduates went subsequent to suggestion to to become teachers themselves.

Three of them studied until they became young people, subsequently married and returned to the Afghan province of Kunduz.

“Within a month of their recompense they opened a educational in a village there. It’s been 12 years forward along with and that educational is yet meting out and all the girls in the village collect that learned. I am every single one cold of that,” she says.

After 23 years of educating refugee girls, Aqeela Asifi has now been unchangeable the Nansen Refugee Award by the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

“This be beached on will urge almost enlarge on my cause. But I’m moreover happy to be recognized as an Afghan Muslim girl and, of course, as a speculative.”

Ms Asifi said that she’d taking into consideration to go protection to Afghanistan in the near sophisticated.

“There are so many children there in quirk of education. I problem to proceed them and retrieve schools for them,” she said.