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Safe Ride to School: A March 2021 Update

Imagine being a young girl excited to walk to school, get there before roll call, and be among the warmth and safety of your friends. Now imagine being harassed by men at every turn of your journey. Now imagine a group of men racing up to you on motorbikes and spraying acid on your face, at your classmates, and at your instructors. All of these were a reality for Shamsia, who in 2008 was part of a group of students walking to school in Afghanistan. The group was targeted for two specific reasons—they were wearing school uniforms, and they were young women.

The walk to and from school was so dangerous that as many as 200 girls, just in one school alone, were pulled from school by parents who feared for the lives of their children. In response to the acid attacks and constant harassment by men, our Safe Ride to School for Afghan Girls program was launched in 2009 to provide these young scholars with safe transportation to and from school. And after 11 years, the program is still giving girls safe rides to school.

Photo © Mirwais Mena

Like all school children world-wide, the program was on hold during the coronavirus outbreak; but we are elated to report that the program was back up and running as of August 2020. It is not only safely transporting 190 students daily but is also driving community change with the newly added protective equipment in response to the coronavirus. Thanks to Greater Good Charities’ donors, the buses are disinfected regularly and outfitted with safety masks and other protective gear to keep all passengers and staff safe from the additional threat.

The program’s staff and participants provided the following insight about the impact of the program:

The daily distribution of the safety gear has not only made the students safe but has also inspired movements for the students to make safety masks mandatory inside their school. Besides, the buses are washed and sprayed by disinfectants on daily basis so to avoid diseases and viruses from escalating which makes of the whole project a ‘safety heaven.'” –Safe Ride Participant

Photo © Mirwais Mena

“It is not only a transportation facility for us but too is a message of goodwill, carriage and education,” Alena said, a 12th grade student.

“Also, I have to mention this, that most parts of the cities have adapted to girls coming out of their houses, mainly because of the influence of this project.” –Safe Ride Participant

We wanted to extend our thanks to you, Greater Good Charities donors, by sharing their words of gratitude from participants of this program:

“Before my daughters could not walk to school because they had several enemies, the fear of conservatives, the thugs attacks on the streets and even the weathercold and rainy weather with slippery and muddy streets without proper shoesit was a complete catastrophe for a defenseless young girl. After the program was blessed upon us, now my daughters and other girls from our village have continued their schooling without any intimidation.” –Parent

Photo © Afghan Learning and Developing Program