News Day Tuesday: And you thought going to your school was tough.

At left, Shamsia Husseini took an exam with her classmates.  (photo: Danfung Dennis for The New York Times)

I remember when I went to school, all I had to worry about was homework, tests, catching the bus, getting to the cafeteria before the line got too long,…you know, typical stuff.  I never worried about being attacked by people who thought I shouldn’t be going to school because I’m a girl.

But sadly, that is exactly the kind of thing students and teachers of the Mirwais School for Girls have to worry about.  Back in November, a group of men attacked 11 girls and 4 teachers with acid.  Seventeen-year-old Shamsia Husseini (pictured at left above…you can’t really see her face) suffered the worst.  Her injuries were so bad that she had to be treated at a hospital abroad.  They were so bad that today her vision gets blurry, making it hard for her to read.

Not surprisingly, parents refused to let their daughters go outside after that.  So for four days, the Mirwais School for Girls was empty.  But four days was enough for the headmaster of the school, Mahmood Qadari, who proceeded to work tirelessly to fill those classrooms again.  He asked the local government for more police, a footbridge, and a schoolbus.  And he held meetings with hundreds of parents imploring them to let their daughters return to school.

And so today, just TWO months after the attack, the 40 classrooms of the Mirwais School for Girls are so full that additional classes have to be held in tents outside in the courtyard.  Did the government come through with the police?  No.  The bridge?  No.  The schoolbus?  No.

It seems that the only things that came through were the courage and persistence of the parents, the teachers, and most of all, the students.  Almost all of the 1300 or so students have returned to school, including 8 of the 11 girls who were attacked.

And yes, that includes even the girl who was hurt the most – Shamsia Husseini.  Last I heard, she was taking a geography test, trying to remember what the capital of Brazil was.  And if she did remember, she’d know more than a college graduate like me because I am absolutely terrible at geography.  😉

(I Googled it though.  The capital of Brazil is Brasília.  I never would’ve guessed that in a million years.  My two guesses were Rio de Janeiro, because of Carnaval, and São Paulo, because my plane landed there once on the way to Argentina.  Don’t tell Mari that.  She might hit me.)

If you’d like to read the full article, here it is.  There are also pictures showing the students going about their day in school.

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8 Responses to “News Day Tuesday: And you thought going to your school was tough.”

  1. jessicaf Says:

    haha my mom would kill me if i didnt know the capital of brasil. she grew up there for 17 years! (and we’re chinese, isnt that so weird?)

    anyhoo, sometimes we forget how lucky we are here in the US & Canada. Females don’t have to worry much about having acid thrown at us or death threats. I am so grateful that women here can pursue and education without worrying about survival. I really applaud these women. They put their lives on the line for something so important.

    It is a shame that the government fails to step up and help out these girls. I can only imagine the fear and stress they must face on a day-to-day basis. All of this trauma to receive an education that is already promised to us here in the US.

    These girls are destined to go far and to do great in their lives. I pray that they stay protected. Great article Kathy. It is always good to be aware of the world around us-and remind us of all we take for granted. 🙂

  2. Hammad Says:

    Fortunately, the mentality of some of the people who commit these vicious acts have no basis in the religion they claim to adhere to. If the “founder” of the religion commanded people to never strike another person across the face, let alone women, what does it tell you about these people’s understanding of the religion to throw acid with the intent to disfigure women?

    Unfortunately, I’m not sure where this type of mentality, which is obviously based on ignorance or misunderstanding, found its place among these people and could be rationalized to be acceptable within the religion itself. I remember someone telling me a story about a man from the same part of the world who adhered to what I can only called “warped” beliefs when another person asked him if women should be allowed to be educated. He said no, and he claimed that the religion said they shouldn’t be. So, the person asked him, what if his wife got sick in her genital area, and required medical attention, would he want another man to touch his wife’s private parts to diagnose the problem? He obviously said no. So, the person then said, if women aren’t educated to be doctors, in particular, gynecologists, who’s going to diagnose your wife so she can get medical help if you don’t want women to be educated? He was dumbfounded. Perhaps he should have gone to school.

    Unfortunately, this is the mentality of some people, which I believe can only be due to corruption of a human being’s innate sense of justice.

  3. Kathy Says:

    @ Jessica F – You know, if it weren’t for my family, I probably would think that was weird, but apparently there’s a significant Asian population in South America. My cousins always surprise the Puerto Ricans and Dominicans here when they whip out their perfect Spanish. lol.

  4. Kathy Says:

    @ Hammad – That’s a great example – with the gynecologists. Thanks. 🙂

  5. jessicaf Says:

    @kathy. that is so crazy! i know, people are surprised when my mom busts out some portugese occasionally. I did really well in spanish during high school and her and I would compare different words to see how similar the two languages were.
    haha i can just picture their faces when they see a spanish-speaking asian. just like my face when i had my caucasian buddy who spoke better chinese than i did. i mean WOW!!

  6. jessicaf Says:

    @hammad – i totally agree that it is because of the mentality that people react so violently to things of which they do not agree. each culture has its belief of the way things should be or how people should act. it makes sense that there will be conflict, but why does the conflict have to end in such trauma and violence. its so horrible.

  7. Emma-Lu Says:

    Gosh that’s really hectic! Reminds you to never take things for granted.. here I thought SA was bad, I realise I’m actually so lucky to live where I do. Thanks for posting this Kathy! These ignorant, misinformed and angry attitudes must shift, and they are shifting even more every day. I have hope!

  8. carolyn Says:

    is there any way to create a mailing list tot hese girls, to let them know how incredibly much more beautiful they are than those of us who take skool for granted?

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