Razia Jan is spending the holidays in Massachusetts following the CNN Top Ten Hero award reception in Los Angeles on Dec. 2.
The top prize went to Pushpa Basnet, who started a children’s center in Nepal to help kids whose parents are incarcerated. Jan isn’t upset about not being selected as Hero of the Year. She is grateful for the global support and attention that being a Top Ten Hero has brought to Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation. Her work educating girls in Deh’ Subz, Afghanistan will continue as before.
Jan wanted a reception in Duxbury to thank the community for their outpouring of support, to share her experience as a CNN Hero and to talk about the future of the Zabuli School for Girls.
Jan was visibly moved when thanking the community for their years of support, which afforded her the ability to open the Zabuli School for Girls in 2008. Speaking about the school, “the credit doesn’t go to me but goes to you,” she said to the audience at the Duxbury Student Union on Thursday evening, Dec. 13.
About her trip to Los Angeles for the awards ceremony, Jan said the staff from CNN was wonderful and very supportive of her and the other Heroes. Being a CNN Hero hasn’t changed Jan’s commitment to educating girls in Afghanistan.
“There is nothing I won’t do for them. I want the best for these girls,” said Jan. She continued, “Good things are happening and I hope and pray the girls are safe. We have to be careful and take it one day at a time.”
While in Los Angeles, CNN provided practical training to Jan and Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation Director Patti Quigley to help them increase donations. The publicity from being a Top Ten CNN Hero has already increased donations to the foundation.
Big changes are on tap for the Zabuli School. Jan plans to buy an adjacent property and build eight classrooms that will house middle school girls and the new high school class. The addition will include space for a brand-new boys’ kindergarten class. Jan says she wants to educate boys “because now families see the girls are doing better than the boys,” thus starting to cause friction.
The existing, local boys school is very large and doesn’t provide the personal attention given to the girls at the Zabuli School. Jan said, “I will have women teachers so boys learn how to treat women.” When someone asked what would happen if parents don’t want women to teach their boys, Jan responded, “then they don’t have to send their sons to my school.” Jan hopes to open the new building in March 2013.
Jan heads back to Kabul on Dec. 31 and plans to come back to Duxbury in the spring to host an event.