Nearly 150 people showed up for Shorecrest student Amina Shah’s senior project, a traditional Afghani dinner to raise money for Ayni Education International, which supports building and repairing schools in Afghanistan.
Community members in the Shorecrest High cafeteria enjoyed the meal of spicy chicken drumsticks, potatoes, salata, rice, garbanzo beans and more served up by volunteers. Traditional Afghani clothing, scarves and other items were on sale as well.
Shah’s goal was to raise $1,000 and attract 60 attendees for Wednesday’s event, but she raised more than $3,000 and nearly 150 attended.
During a school assembly earlier in the day Shah told her story of fleeing Afghanistan during the war with the Soviet Union and living in Pakistan before coming to the United States in 2002.
Pursuing educational opportunities is difficult in Afghanistan, especially for girls because of poverty and the Taliban, the fundamentalist practitioners of Islam who are in power. That’s where organizations like Ayni, which has built 21 new schools and repaired 20 others, serving 25,000 students--75 percent of them girls--enters the picture.
Guest speaker Julia Bolz, a former lawyer who now works for Ayni, has made 16 trips to Afghanistan, and is spreading her message all over the U.S. talking to community groups, schools, members of Congress and the military.
Military solutions that try to disrupt, dismantle and defeat the Taliban are only a Band-Aid solution, Bolz said.
“Education is the way to eliminate poverty, oppression and extremism," Bolz said. “The results are not only good, they’re phenomenal.”
Of the Taliban, Bolz said, “They’re there, they know we’re there,” Bolz said. “The community is supporting us. The community protects us and the schools.”
Bolz spoke about different clothing Afghanis wear and what story that can tell about the person, in terms of purpose and function. She had audience members try the items on to illustrate her points.
As she closed her talk, Bolz emphasized the need to get to know your neighbors wherever you are.
“It’s getting to know each other because deep inside we’re all the same,” she said.