As high as her expectations are for herself, they’re even higher for her country. Haji Bibi, the director of Barakat’s literacy programs, has spent her life fighting for what she believes in. She has broken away from social norms, after years of being stifled by them. She succeeded as a child in struggling to obtain, despite the early loss of her father. She now heads a major program for Barakat, despite her husband’s wishes that she stay at home.
Haji Bibi, a Pashtun, was born in 1956 in the Andkhoy province, in a village called Charamgar Khana. She began her schooling at seven, the same year that her father passed away, leaving her brothers as her caretakers.
Her schooling continued until she was 15 when her brother married her off to a rug trader, who already had three other wives.
After a long and difficult struggle, Haji Bibi finally convinced her husband to allow her to work. This was her greatest obstacle in life, and also her greatest accomplishment. She started teaching courses at Barakat’s Mullah Kareem Nazar School in 2000. Three years later she helped to establish Barakat’s Literacy Courses for Girls and Women in the Organji Khana village, and eventually headed the program.
Haji Bibi loves her work, because she gets to witness the beginning of each girl’s journey in education. She loves to create new programs and to watch students graduate. These are two favorite aspects of her job. During the last three decades of war, no one knew their rights, she says. No one understood the benefits of education. Today, Haji Bibi is helping them to see the advantage of an education, not only for their personal progress, but also for the betterment of their country.
The love of her country and hope for a better future is, no doubt, what drives Haji Bibi. She is pleased with the development that has occurred since the fall of the Taliban, and is confident that it will only grow. “I think the future of Afghanistan will be great,” Haji Bibi says. “I hope that it will have peaceful and secure conditions. I want all the girls and women to be literate so that they can help to reconstruct our beloved country. This is my most important goal.”