The Taliban's ban on education for Afghan women and girls has led to the formation of an underground network of schools run by a non-registered NGO called SRAK, founded by a 25-year-old woman named Parasto. These secret schools allow girls to continue their studies in spite of the Taliban's restrictions. The schools operate illegally and face the constant risk of being discovered by the Taliban, who have already searched homes in search of secret schools. Teachers and students face immense risk, but the alternative of stopping the work is even more dire, as many of the girls would be forced into marriage or risk death while giving birth in rural areas with no access to clinics. The underground schools operate on limited resources, with many schools lacking electricity, and several teachers working without pay. Despite the challenges, Parasto and her team are committed to their mission, seeing their students as family members and sisters, and striving to bring back the hope and shine in their eyes.
Photo Credit: Ivan Aleksic