Razia Jan, native Afghan and award-winning humanitarian, is the founder of Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2007 that improves the lives of young women and girls through community-based education in the rural district of Deh’Subz, Afghanistan. Built on the knowledge that education is key to positive, peaceful change for current and future generations, Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation provides learning and growth in a safe, nurturing environment, empowering girls and young women through education and resources so that they may work toward brighter futures—in their own villages and beyond.
In March 2008, Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation opened its flagship program, the Zabuli Education Center, an all-girl K-12 school, with 100 students. Today the school is thriving in its thirteenth year of operation providing free, exceptional education and school supplies, in addition to uniforms, shoes, warm coats, healthy meals, and transportation to and from school to approximately 700 disadvantaged girls in a region with one of the lowest literacy rates in the world. Zabuli Education Center students come from impoverished, uneducated households in a society that systemically stifles women’s achievement.
In March 2017, Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation opened the Razia Jan Institute, the first women’s postsecondary vocational school in this region of Afghanistan, adjacent to the Zabuli Education Center. The Razia Jan Institute is a tuition-free, two-year midwifery training program and educational facility emphasizing the importance of maternal and infant health while supporting health-sector employment for Afghan women, and includes classes in English, personal finance, and computer literacy. Building on the success of the Zabuli Education Center, the Razia Jan Institute offers post-secondary education opportunities to graduates of the Zabuli Education Center and other community members, providing them with a clear path to empowered employment as midwives while bringing medical services to a desperately underserved area. The Razia Jan Institute will matriculate 20 to 25 young women every other year beginning with this first class that began in 2017.
In the fall of 2018, Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation purchased a parcel of land adjacent to the existing K-12 school building. A portion of this land was designated for the construction of a playground and sports area. Thanks to the generosity of the David D. Dodge Foundation, in the spring 2019, we built a playground that includes swing sets, seesaws, a climbing structure, and slide. We also created and equipped a space for soccer, volleyball, and basketball—along with a small building for equipment storage and bathroom facilities.
School is the one place where our students actually get to be children, where they can run and play and be physically active without any negative social pressure. By offering a sports and recreation program at Zabuli Education Center we hope to provide our students with a healthy physical outlet, and to allow them to explore and develop their physical fitness. We anticipate that the girls will not only benefit physically from the sports and recreation program, but that we will also see improvements in their social and emotional well-being as well as in their academic performance.
Additionally, in February of 2020, the David D. Dodge Foundation provided a grant to procure new textbooks for Zabuli Education Center, an unexpected expenditure required by the Ministry of Education to replace all textbooks for the upcoming 2020 school year. The David D. Dodge Foundation’s swift generosity allowed Razia’s Ray of Hope to move forward without disruption to the girls’ education.
For more information about Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation, please visit our website: www.raziasrayofhope.org.