Father’s Day: Principal and father of 10 watches over village children

In the Kamp-e Farm Hada refugee camp in Jalalabad, Afghanistan one seventy-year-old father has made it his mission to ensure all children have access to education. Principal Owsubila holds up a picture of his son, Mustafa, who is seven years old and first in his class. He beams with pride not only for Mustafa, but for all the children who work hard to attend school despite being in the poorest area of Jalalabad.

Many of the students who live in Kamp-e Farm Hada are refugees twice over. They first fled conflict in Afghanistan across the boarder to Pakistan, and were displaced again after the Pakistani government moved to break up these camps and drive refugees back over the boarder. Just last year, Principle Owsubila welcomed seventy students back from Pakistan, making room for them under old, leaky UNISEF tents.

Poor facilities hinder progress

Owsubila’s 3,775 students brave scorching hot sun, poor bathroom facilities, and passing storms in order to get their education. While the school is 21 years old, they lack any formal structure, and classes are still mostly held outside. Girls attend in the morning and make up thirty-nine total classes. Once they are finished the boys gather for their schooling and make up forty-three classes. Though the parents planted trees for shade, temperatures can be unbearably hot in the spring and summer. The bathroom facilities are so inadequate that many girls avoid using them all day and suffer from kidney stones and infections.

Students sometimes drop out of school or skip class, but Principal Owsubila will seek them out and urge them to come back. He worries that if a boy drops out he may join an extremist group and fight, but if he stays in school that boy will serve his family, community and country instead. If a student can’t come to school because her family can’t afford it, he has been known to pay for her supplies with his own money.

The children of Kamp-e Farm Hada are lucky to have Owsubila looking out for their education. In this village, parents see education as the only way out of poverty, even for their girls.

Women are half the world

When asked why he works so hard for girls’ education, he explains, “Women are half of the world. They are under the proud father and photocontrol of a husband or father. But when you have your own income you can do anything you want according to your rights. Income means freedom for women.”

Principal Owsubila needs new tents that don’t leak, desks for his students to write on, working water tanks to supply clean drinking water during hot classes, and clean toilets the women can use regularly. Central Asia Institute is working closely with in-country partners to help bring him the supplies he needs. Oswubila’s desire for every child in his village is matched closely with our own, but there is still much work to be done

There will be no rest for Principal Oswubila this Father’s Day. He has six daughters and four sons, including Mustafah, and he is determined they will all earn an education. He watches over all the village children and he will not rest until they all have the ability to learn. “Education is the biggest hope for the country’s future. With education they can help themselves, their families, and others. They can help their country.” With the determination and love of a father, Kamp-e Farm Hada has become a place where education is the highest priority, no matter the obstacle.