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I Open Girls' Minds

By Zephaniah

One incident changed my life forever: in 7th grade, I was delivering a speech to my class, acting like a teacher but standing on her chair. When the actual teacher came, she started beating me in front of my classmates. She abused me and all the girls started ridiculing me. I felt so humiliated, I cried for many days. I felt like my heart was dying inside.

At that moment I decided to leave school, although I never stopped studying. I started reading in the privacy of my home. I decided to start teaching other girls and give them the respect the love and the care that I was not given at my school. In the beginning, there was only one student. My class started in open air and there were no pen, no copy machine, and I only had a few books. But I kept going; I did not want any child to experience what had happened to me. I decided that I will never use a stick in my school, and that I would make education interesting for the children.

I have taught free classes since I was 13 years old, and today I still offer free education to women and children. Since I first started teaching at age 13, I have given five hundred girls formal education. I have provided skills training to 50 women and taught 100 girls English, Internet, and computer. This month, I am starting a beauty salon so that my students can earn some money in the future.

The internet and technology helps to open the mind of girls in our society and it bring us a voice. In Pakistan we have two different societies. In one society we see our women can do anything. They can be administrators, fighter pilots, and even Prime Minister of the country. Some people look at these women and feel we are changing, and our women are getting their rights. On the other side, women are still being killed for so-called honor; they are mentally tortured; they cannot even decide when to sleep and when to wake up; they do not have a right to education, to choose their career, to choose their life partner. They have to suffer their whole lives for love, care, and respect. When I started teaching women and girls I came to understand a lot of the problems that women are facing; I felt their misery, helplessness, their pain.

I believe that the solution to all of our problems is in education and using technology to empowering the women of our world.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Women Weave the Web Digital Action Campaign. Learn more »

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Susan K.A.'s picture

Bravo, Zephaniah!

Dear Zephaniah,

Way to go! Thank you for sharing your story. It is so inspiring, and powerful. You show us the capacity of the human spirit to turn something so horrible--the outrageous cruelty inflicted on you as a young girl in school--into a firm resolve to make sure other girls avoid a similar fate. You have managed not to become embittered and defeated by your experience but have let it fuel your empathy, compassion and commitment to changing the status quo. What an amazing accomplishment. I wish you continued success with your school.

Best wishes!

Susan

______________________________________________________________________________

"I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being."
-Hafiz

zephaniah's picture

Hey Sister Susan

what a lovely lady you are, I am very honored to be admired by you. thank you so much
Regards
Sister Zeph

Y's picture

Technology can certainly

Technology can certainly enable you in so many ways!

Yvette

muhorakeye's picture

MERCI

Merci de votre histoire très intéressante, jus qu'à nos jours les femmes connaissent ce problème par touts au monde. Le femme compétente comme toi montre leurs courage pour les intérêt des autres femmes tu as fait un bon travail, courage continuer de lutte contre toute discriminations faite à la femme l’accès a la technologie pour le femme et le fille sont leur droit

Muhorakeye Esperance

Nancy Janus's picture

Your post

It is wonderful to read your story. You took that horrible event that happened to you in school and turned it into your life's work. We can all learn from you! I am filled with admiration that you have taught so many women and girls and that even now you are opening the beauty salon so that they might find work. Your heart must be enormous! I would love to know how technology helps you in your work as a teacher in Pakistan. You said that you see technology as a key to empowerment for women and girls. How do women and girls access technology in your country? I hope that we will hear a lot more from you. Your posting was really very interesting.

With admiration,

Nancy

zephaniah's picture

Hey my friend

thank you so much for reading the story and to admire, I am so much thankful to the teacher who humilated me in my childhood.so I am able to do this much for my girls in my country.
Technolongy is giving me recognisation in the world, due to it I am gettign support from many people , Now there are so many who know me, who want to help me who want to take a stand with me. In my country it is very difficult for the women to access the technology , because of lake of education, and opportunities, in villaged it is like a dream to get this access for them.

Nancy Janus's picture

Hi again

Just consider what a wonderful thing you are doing for the women in your country through your teaching. You will surely create leaders! I congratulate you and I think that the recognition you are getting is well deserved. You must have been very brave to begin teaching women and girls in Pakistan. I have read about how difficult it is for girls to be educated there. I am a university professor, and I am teaching a course now called Global Children's Issues. One of the topics we will be studying is the difficulty of women and girls to get educated in much of the world. The book my students will read is I am Malala, about the Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban for her work to get girls educated in your country. Perhaps someday you will write a book about your teaching. I will look forward to read it!

Best regards,

Nancy

AlexandraF's picture

Thank You!

Thanks so much for sharing your story! It is very inspiring to see what you have done and how you have used your experience to bring compassion and education to the girls and women in your area. And I love that photo you included. My husband is a teacher here in Oregon and he is using technology to connect his students with students in other countries. It is truly amazing to watch how for example Skype or Google hangout or blogging can connect the students and make them aware of what struggles others are facing. As long we have access to technology it is an amazing tool. I was wondering how do you access the internet in your school? Do you have to pay for it? Do your students use the internet regularly?

I am looking forward to following you on your social media sites. Wish you and your students all the best! And thank you so very much for everything you are doing!

Alexandra

Jenna Kz's picture

Thank You

Hello Zephaniah,

I want to thank you for lending your voice to this important issue through World Pulse. Your drive and commitment to educate girls is such important work. You have had to face a lot of personal adversity, and it is amazing how you have channeled it to do good in Pakistan. I wish you luck in your community leadership.

Your efforts will help to build future leaders and help girls on the"other side" be empowered to eradicate violence against women in the country. Thank you for sharing your voice and for your work to educate girls in Pakistan.

Sincerely,
Jenna

CatherineSakala's picture

Congratulation

Thank you for sharing your story and a job well done. You should be proud of yourself. The fact that from a demoralising situation you were able to draw your strength n cement your passion for education is awesome. I love that you have shared your personal experience and coming from a society where teachers used to beat pupils, I can appreciate the humiliation that come with.

To help me understand more about you, kindly tell me if you have a facility or what kind of a space you provide your classes in? Do you keep track of the girls that come through your school and how they are progressing as a result of the wonderful work you are doing?

I am just really so inspired by the great work you are doing. Keep at it and eventually from the 2 societies you will see that the oppressive side will gradually reduce and disappear.

Catherine Sakala
Entomologist and Parasitologist- Zambia

erincurley's picture

A True Inspiration

Dear Zephaniah,

It is an inspiration to read about someone as compassionate and enlightened as you. Your story is moving and I think that you are what every teacher in the world should be: a lifelong learner and someone dedicated to sharing their strength and knowledge. You have truly embodied the phrase, “be the change you wish to see in the world,” and the fact that you are teaching not only children but women, shows how much of a trailblazer you are. You are showing mothers and would-be mothers as well as their children, that education is attainable and deserved by all, thus breaking many gender and socio-economic boundaries. You said, “They [women] have to suffer their whole lives for love, care, and respect,” and I do believe that you are paving the way for them not only to demand more love, care, and respect, but to impress upon others that no matter who you are, you deserve it. The world is a better place due to people like you.

Best wishes and much admiration,
Erin

missrok's picture

Keep up the great work!

Dear Zephaniah,
it was very moving for me to read your contribution, I could see you as a little girl standing in that chair. I'm very happy that despite this traumatic experience you have grown up to be such an amazing, strong woman and that you are making your country a better place for other women.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the beauty salon!
Greetings from Germany,
Ania

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