She stopped the Taliban from shutting down her school by offering them tea
Suppose the Taliban barge into your house or place of work, and threaten you. You would be acutely aware of the fact that your life is in danger. They could put a bullet in you before you would be able to scream. You would know what the odds of your survival are, and you’d be completely cognisant of the fact that there is no way to escape the situation.
You would be tempted to do one of two things:
1. Cower under the table or lock yourself in the bathroom and pray to God you don’t die today.
2. Or, stand your ground and fight back for what you believe in.
When the Taliban barged into Sakena Yacoobi’s work place in Peshawar, a house that functioned as a make-shift school for girls, and accused her of educating women, she did the unthinkable – she offered them tea, shrugged, and said,
“What school? There is no school.”
She told them this was just a house in which women learnt the Quran to become better wives so they could obey their husbands.
The nine men scratched their heads, perplexed.
She offered them tea again. They took a sip, and left.
Yacoobi tricked them into leaving and prevented the massacre of many innocent lives.
In her talk, she chuckles and says,
“That’s the way you work with those people.”
Yacoobi, a woman from Afghanistan, is pained by the destruction that has plagued her country and has focused all her energy into educating the Afghan women who have been banned from going to school under the Taliban rule. She is the executive director and founder of the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL), an Afghan women-led NGO that has been operating since 1995. After education was banned for women in Afghanistan and the Taliban shut down schools, AIL established 80 schools in residential compounds for 3,000 girls. AIL’s mission is to empower women by providing them with health and education in rural and urban areas, in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
On November 4, 2015, she was awarded the fifth annual World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) prize for her work on women’s rights. The $500,000 prize would prove quite useful for the 12 million people who are aided by AIL.
When she accepted the prize in Doha, Qatar, she said,
“It is particularly meaningful because this is such a crucial time in Afghanistan. I dedicate the prize to the AIL and all of the women, men and children we are educating.”
Yacoobi has shown tremendous courage in the face of adversity. Her gait and wit has allowed her to resist and win against the staunchest of enemies. Her iron-like resolve has made the women of Pakistan and Afghanistan hopeful, so much so, that even men want to be taken under her wing.
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