As I grew up in Afghanistan, I realized that women were treated differently; women weren’t allowed to go to school, to go shopping, or to go visit their families without a man’s permission. Life was difficult for housewives and young girls, especially in smaller villages. I grew older and learned more every day. While in Grade 8, I decided that I would dedicate my life to fighting for women’s rights.
Comforted by my strong religious beliefs, I decided to teach adult literacy. While continuing my education at the university level, I became a supervisor of an adult education program. I continued to be dedicated to helping women.
In 1981, I, along with eighteen other teachers, was taken hostage by Hezb E Islami terrorists while travelling by bus from Kabul. Three women were killed and sixteen of the nineteen survived the ordeal.
In 1984, I left Afghanistan with my husband and three-month-old daughter. My father was killed earlier by a rocket that hit our house. My mother and three of my siblings were severely injured in that attack as well. With my heart broken, I left everything behind as I fled to Pakistan in 1994. Fleeing to Pakistan was an arduous trip. Sadly, I lost all contact with my family.
After living in Pakistan for almost three years, I found out my aunt had moved to Canada. Thankfully she sponsored me, my husband, and my daughter to join her. We arrived in Canada to start this new chapter in our lives on December 2, 1988 and on December 6, 1988, I gave birth to my son. Finally, on December 10, 1988, I was able to locate and contact my mother. I called her, and my eyes lit up with hope.
I found my first job in Canada a month later at a sock factory, three minutes from my aunt’s home. During my break-time, I would rush back to breast feed my son. I worked hard to support my family and was very happy to have a life in Canada.
I didn’t return to Afghanistan to visit until November, 2009. Over the years, I had heard a lot about the country on the news, so I had a strong sense of what to expect when I got there. I found that Kabul was so beautiful in many ways. It was surrounded by impressive houses, tall buildings, private hospitals, schools, and universities. Kabul was a busy city full of markets and street traders. I was able to spend time with my extended family and friends. I also visited my home town where I grew up. After this, we headed to Mazar-e-Sharif in the north of the country. It was a very short trip. My first trip back was to reconnect with my friends and family. I knew, though, that I would be coming back to carry on towards my goal of improving the lives of women there.
A few days after leaving Afghanistan, I knew I would return to finish what I started. Then, in September, 2010 I returned to work with orphaned children and widows. I taught them about proper nutrition and gave them food and winter clothing in my old home town. I wanted people to feel safe and care about each other. I spent weeks with them—many of them had forgotten that I lived there for most of my childhood. If they viewed me solely as a westerner, I think it would have been harder to succeed and gain the trust of the township. It was important that I wasn’t misunderstood.
I worked to empower, train, and build the livelihood of women in Afghanistan. By aiding women, it changes the bleak future of poverty that has engulfed many of the Afghan women for three decades. My focus was on: empowerment of women, education, entrepreneurship (business development), and health.
To provide support for the education of girls in Afghanistan, I have facilitated many efforts. In 2013, I funded a project to construct four additional classrooms at Mir Bacha Kot Girls High School. Previously there were not enough indoor classrooms to support the number of students at this school. Using family funds raised for my projects, I decided to fill the need at Mir Bacha Kot Girls High School.
In 2015, I opened the first subsidized daycare in the region of Mir Bacha Kot, Kabul, Afghanistan. The daycare provided an opportunity for single mothers and widows to spend time away from their children, knowing that they would be in safe hands. With our daycare program, single mothers could look for employment opportunities and keep up with important errands when they otherwise could not. Since opening, the daycare has evolved to provide children with an educational environment. Children who attend our subsidized daycare learn both English and Dari, and are taught using modern Canadian educational methodology. We want to inspire children to love learning and hope that they will seek an academic lifestyle as their lives progress.
Since the inception of these projects, it has always been a priority of mine to encourage women to seek out commercial opportunities. To aid this, I have developed a program to train and work with local women to create a business. We provided training and materials. The business model was simple: women use a skill they already possess—tailoring—to create decorative scarves that can be sold at a local market. Though this may seem simple, a high percentage of the population in Afghanistan is illiterate with little to no education, therefore simple steps must be taken to begin with. As this program continues to develop, I plan to expand it. I hope to obtain tailoring machinery that can be used to create more complex clothing. The next goal is to seek opportunities to fill local demands.
In December, 2016, I worked with a group of volunteers to prepare clothes for the hospital for infants and newborns.
On day at the school during recess, all the youngsters were fooling around in the yard. They came over to chat and I told them I had some balls in the classroom they could play with. They asked me if they could use them and I went and got them. I watched the children’s play go from chaotic to excited and delighted. This is when the idea for my 2017 project was born. What if Afghan girls were able to play hockey? It is a remarkable and quirky clash of culture. But, when I saw those beautiful girls playing in the yard, I realized that however unusual it might seem, they would be doing what came naturally to them. It would give them a chance to do something they love and give them a chance to discover their own personalities. It would allow expression through sport. I feel blessed to have met these girls.
So, that is how Hockey Girls of Kabul started. I hope this collection of pictures and notes captures something of their spirit and joy, both as a group and as individuals.
In 2016, I was at the Mir Bacha Kot Girls High School in the storage room organizing materials. The recess bell rang and all the little children went out to play in the school yard. Some beautiful girls came over to talk to me. They asked if they could have the balls from the classroom to play with.
I went to the classroom and brought the balls to the door to give to them. They were so happy, and I went outside too see them play. Because the children now had something to play with, they were running, playing, and laughing all around the large school yard. I walked around thinking, “Wouldn’t it be great if they had a sports rink?”
Hockey in Canada is a Canadian cultural icon. Turns out, hockey could also be very important to the country of Afghanistan because the climate in the north is very similar to that of Canada, and conditions are good for outdoor skating. To mark the 150th anniversary of Canada, I wanted to build an ice hockey rink in Afghanistan to hopefully create a shared tradition, honouring such sports as running, fitness, and in-line skating in an Afghanistan initiative.
It was my hope that Canada and Afghanistan could share a passion for hockey. I wanted to see our countries united by a love of this sport. In 2017, our project of Canada to Afghanistan was created to mobilize our new mutual passion for hockey and to promote Canadian priorities in Afghanistan; and to celebrate many significant milestones—including Canada’s 150th anniversary and our nine years of humanity work in Mir Bacha Kot Girls High School.
Through the hockey movement, the messages of youth and inclusivity are resonating in Afghanistan. As soon as I delivered the hockey equipment I brought to the school in 2017, I was surrounded by the eager youth of all ages who wanted to learn how to ice and in-line skate and learn how to play hockey. I began teaching the sports lessons in the classroom and later the students practiced in-line skating so that youth could connect with educational opportunities. I was very excited to teach almost 500 students who were under the age of sixteen. It was nice to provide a safe space for them, especially a place for the girls to participate in sports activities. Since hockey was brand new to the country, the students were very excited for the lessons, to try on the various protection equipment, and to try in-line skating. They became comfortable with all the equipment. This enthusiasm prompted me to think bigger. If I could establish more outdoor ice hockey rinks in Afghanistan, the program would be able to reach more youth as well as provide more girls with sports and educational opportunities.
Since 2017, the outdoor ice hockey rink has been established in one school in Afghanistan thanks to the amazing efforts all of our Canadian volunteers who supported me and our local staff in Afghanistan. Now, Mir Bacha Kot most certainly has the highest percentage of female hockey players in Afghanistan. Sport is a tool for empowering youth to create great opportunities and to foster the potential for success. Along with all the sports clubs that meet before or after school, we provide educational opportunities including a youth leadership program. We encourage these students to continue their education and many street children have been encouraged to come back to school. I am very proud of and grateful for the partnerships and support from the Rotary Club of North York, Sportley, and Rias Design Inc. I am extremely excited to see many people enjoy sports and who now can experience this every day.
Zarmina Nekzai Big Dreams
Three years ago, inspired to build Outdoor Ice Hockey Rink For Girls in Kabul Afghanistan Empower Women and Youth with the support of Rotary Club of North York my dream come true.
Zarmina Nekzai first book Hockey Girls of Kabul takes the reader on an inspirational journey that many believed was madness building outdoor ice hockey Rink for girls in Afghanistan in a quest to fight for women's rights and gender equality. Of course, this was not the first time I had been working hard to support women and youth local and Afghanistan.
I was so inspired to see joy in the future of children. The book that I decided on was to be able to support of rights for girls and women. In The Hockey Girls of Kabul readers will be transported to a country of beauty, hardship and complexity, sharing in the despair, resilience and friendliness of the Afghan people as they strive for freedom and equality for themselves and their fellow citizens.
My second step for Hockey Girls of Kabul.
I am privileged to be living in a nation where access to education sets the foundation for community life, where inclusion and protection from discrimination is valued and where gender equality and empowering women and girls is a priority and continuous mission. I am privileged, while others are not. Canada champions the pillars of equality and education while others are forced to fight and even die for such rights. I am fortunate to be educated and empower woman and youth but I cannot feel the fulfillment when thinking of the young women and girls across the world who feel as though they have been left behind. To be in the presence of such a brave, inspiring and wonderful human being and woman of diversity is an honour. My promise to all women and youth is that I will stand by your side and support you in my mission to make sure that we don’t leave anyone behind anymore.
“I really want to support”
women who are survivors of domestic violence and their children.
“a global coalition of rights organizations, estimates that every two seconds, an under-age girl is married. Every year, approximately 15 MILLION girls are forced into marriage worldwide. This number should be a shocking wake up call.”
Opening a place of HOPE
Barrie Woman Zarmina Nekzai members of Rotary Club of North York and The Canadian Federation of University Women
Barrie Woman wanted to run, walk, and rollerblade.
Zarmina think of 150 Canada birthday was on 2017 planed tracks across from Barrie to British Columbia for 150 days after completed Build the Outdoor Ice Hockey Rink for Girls in Afghanistan to raise awareness and money to empower women and youth around the world
“But I start it with shorter distance from Barrie to Ottawa.
I plans over 412.05 kilometre tracks for Hockey Girls of Kabul.
Zarmina Nekzai turns 58, on May 05,2019 will run from Barrie to Ottawa to raise money for Hockey Girls of Kabul empower women and youth around the world. “Zarmina Makes Tracks departs Barrie April 29 at 9:00 AM, I will arrive in Ottawa on May 12, 2019 for Mother’s Day."
I will be walking from Barrie to Ottawa and I am looking for sponsorship in the form of money (per kilometre) as well as support from Rotary Club members or Canadian Federation of University Women on the route to provide overnight accommodations, and also to walk with me for a short distance.
Your gifts are will be a pledge.
Canadian Community Organization for Women and Youth registered (1931770)
For people living in with your donation, we will put 50% to the local Women and Youth Summer Camping
“According to a 2012 study on immigrant mental wellbeing by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), about 29 per cent of immigrants reported having emotional problems and 16 per cent reported high levels of stress after immigrating, with women more likely to report experiencing emotional problems.”
Canadian community Organization for Women and Youth whichever State they live, helping children and families.
Other 50%, we’ll put the money for second step for Hockey Girls of Kabul new project for 50.000 -square-foot building Women Shelter will include in 30 bedrooms, along with offering fully accessible rooms, individualized group counselling, employment skills training, life coaching, healthy centre, reaction centre of course our national sport Ice Hockey Rink for four Seasons sports and school for children under one roof.
Zarmina Nekzai story: If you’re completely new to Zarmina Nekzai Adventures 412.05 Km run story, visit the website www.hockeygirlsofkabul.com
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Timetable for my track
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