Report by Steve Penners, former President of Afghan Women’s Mission during a visit to an Afghan refugee camp in Pakistan where RAWA ran an underground school. February 2003.

underground school 1
“My mother and sisters are refugees from Afghanistan living in Pakistan. We have fled endless war in our country. We walk to school through rock strewn dirt lanes under the bright midday sun hoping no one follows us.”

underground school 2
“We turn down a dirt road passing mud brick buildings…”

underground school 3
“Suddenly the steps to our school beckon us upward and into the school yard!”

underground school 4
“We hastily pass through the courtyard anxious to be reunited with our classmates.”

underground school 5
“Jugs of water stand sentry duty just outside our room…”

underground school 6
“We kick off our shoes and step inside eager to find out what new things we will learn today.”

underground school 7
“Two of my friends are concentrating on a book which they share.”

underground school 8
“One of us steps forward to show our skills in front of the class.”

underground school 9
“Some people say that educating girls is not important, but I like to learn. It makes me feel free.”

Based on an actual interview.