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The power of a dream

    Deda was born to a traditional Afghan family. She was allowed to finish her secondary education but when it was time for higher education, cultural inhibitions got in the way and she had to leave university in the second year of her studies. Her father was supporting her, but her mother and other family members were not in favour of higher education for girls.  Deda with her father’s support tried hard to convince them but, unfortunately, her mother and uncles continued to disagree.

    “My mother was telling me to learn cooking and home chores instead of going out and studying,” Deda recalled, adding “she was insisting that literate and illiterate girls are the same. Those girls who are good at home chores receive more respect in the family after marriage, and families prefer girls who are better with home chores than having higher education.” Her mother’s belief was not the only obstacle in her path; her uncles, who had not schooling themselves, were against girls’ education too.

    “My uncles believed that it was not good for a young lady to go out of the house without a male guardian. They also said that as I had completed school there was no need for me to go to university and be out of the house for the whole day.”

    Her mother was the happiest member of the family. She tried to teach Deda home chores and other necessary things a woman needed to learn. Deda never tried to learn them as she was always thinking about her education.

    “She was always pushing and making me to learn home chores, but I never listened to her and insisted on resuming my higher education. Even though I was sitting at home I couldn’t stop thinking about going back to my university. Higher education was my dream.” Deda remembered.

    Deda was good at school subjects. School girls from the neighbourhood were always coming to her for help. Deda was teaching them mathematics and other school subjects. The families of those girls were grateful to Deda for helping their daughters with their studies.

    “Whenever the neighbours came to our home, they were thanking me. One day one of our neighbours told my mom that her dream was to see her daughter graduating from university with a degree in the future,” Deda reminisced.

    After one and a half years, a girl from the neighbourhood attended university. The girl’s mother supported her a lot, and she was the only one going to university from the area. Deda used that as an example and talked to mother but her mother still disagreed. She wanted Deda to get married which she resisted; she didn’t want to get married without completing her education. She kept turning down proposed suitors.

    Her father was supporting her but couldn’t stand against his wife and other family members. “It was only when my cousin passed university entrance exam and succeeded to secure a place in her favourite faculty, my mother changed her mind,” Deda remembered with a smile. She saw that the same family who was against Deda’s higher education let their own daughter go to university. He mother felt guilty and decided to take corrective action.

    “My mother held my hand and took me to the university. She did everything she could so I could restart my education once again.” Deda said. Her mother supported Deda with her education to the extent that she even allowed Deda to take part in arts programmes.