You either just give up, or you think, ‘one life at a time’
Sarah Fane is an optimist, a smile never far from her lips. Ask her about educating girls in Afghanistan, a nation where the literacy rate for women is among the worst in the world, and she beams.
If you have a massive problem like Afghanistan, you either just give up, or you think, one life at a time,says the blonde 54-year-old.
Fane lives in Aldworth, a village about 50 miles west of London. It’s a world away from Afghanistan, where she has previously worked as a doctor. She remembers working at a womens clinic in 2001 and being struck by how many children, especially girls, were not in school. Before the American-led invasion, the Taliban prohibited girls from getting an education.
When Fane returned to England, she started giving talks to raise funds for work in Afghanistan, first for health projects and later for schools. She set up Afghan Connection, a charity that has raised more than 6 million pounds ($7.3 million) to fund the construction of 44 schools — often in remote, mountainous areas.
Fane travels to Afghanistan twice a year and says theres still much to do. According to UNICEF, only half of the nation’s children are in school. But she has seen steady progress since she established her charity in 2002.
Its incredible to see girls say, We want to be doctors and teachers, we want to change our country, she says. One life at a time.
‘Why am I tolerating it’
Vimla lost her father when she was 14. A year later, she was married to a man 16 years older than her. He began beating her on the first night of their marriage. When a lion attacks a lamb, that is how my first night with him felt like, she said.
After years of abuse, Vimla, 64, who goes by just her first name, asked herself, Why am I tolerating it
She started attending a workshop held for women and eventually began working in the slums. The first time I saw a slum, I thought, how do people live here Vimla said. It is so dirty, but I had this thing in my heart that I have to do something.
She started the Women Progress Council to educate women across 12 slum colonies in Delhi about domestic violence, health and their rights. Once they get support, it gives them confidence, Vimla said. They understand the unfairness and then they stand up for themselves.
Vimla lives with her husband but no longer allows him to hit her. I am grateful to him, she said. Because if he was not like this, then I would not be what I am now.