Finding Fame

Would you know this girl if you passed her walking down the street

Most likely you would not—until now. Meet Shahzada Eishanzada. Shahzada lives in Andkhoy district of Northern Afghanistan. This young woman of 16 years has dreamed of being famous since the time she was young. “When I was a girl I had a dream to become an actress and a famous person.”

But how could she pursue this dream if she couldn’t read Like most others faced with the district’s serious economic problems, Shahzada was blocked from an education that could facilitate the future she dreamed about.

“At the age of seven, I wanted to go to school, but my family didn’t have enough money to send me,” and she began to resign herself to a life of labor. “As a young [illiterate] girl, I had no alternatives. As I remained illiterate, I lost my hopes, dreams and interests in education and acting.”

In her province there are 339 primary and secondary schools, 71% of which are male only. There is heavy pressure on women to stay home and work to help support the family, instead of pursuing an education.

Shahzada realized the importance of literacy for more than just the pursuit of dreams when Shogufa, her 5-year-old sister, fell ill. Shahzada’s father gave her the name and address of the doctor to whom Shogufa should be taken, but Shahzada was at a loss. “I couldn’t find the doctor’s office,” Shahzada said, “because I couldn’t read the doctor’s office signs. After that day, I decided that I must go to school.”

With newly found determination, Shahzada convinced her father to send her to school. But, she was too old for the strict age limitation imposed by many traditional Afghani government schools. Fortunately, she heard about Barakat through the village grapevine. “I decided to go to the Barakat Office in Andkhoy and talk with their staff members. I met the Barakat team and explained my situation,” Shahzada said. “They opened their arms and accepted me as their student.”

Today, with the help of Barakat, Shahzada’s dreams are coming true. She is enrolled in Sewad Amausi, a lower-level literacy course, in Andkhoy, and is full of hope for the future—pursuing her education and the life she chooses.

And her dream for fame has been realized in a small way—as you and many others worldwide are reading about her today.