Sozo School Expands and Families are Growing!
An interview with Wakil, Director of International Operations, by Tina Bruner, Executive Director
Tina: What were barriers early on for parents allowing their children to join our school?
Wakil: The Sozo School for Street Working Children started with only 42 students. Everything in Afghanistan is about relationships, so us building trust with the families was important. A huge issue for the families of these children is that they are moving to Kabul from rural areas in search of work. The mindset in those areas don’t always prioritize education – especially when the parents/extended family cannot provide for their basic needs each day.
Tina: So, it’s a complex problem – they are being asked to give up a wage earner that can mean the difference of if they eat that day vs investing in the education of that one child?
Tina: When did you see them become more open to sending their children to our school?
Wakil: When they saw how well we cared for their children. Our teachers, local staff, short-term teams, long-term teams…everyone showed love and care for them. We provide not only a high-quality education, but a hot meal each day.
Tina: Why is it important to add a grade each year?
Wakil: Because the level of our education is higher than other places and our relationships are going deeper with these families. We are seeing amazing changes in the children and in their families. We are able to speak into their lives. Starting day one that they are with us we want to keep them.
Tina: How have families been impacted by their children being part of Sozo’s school?
Wakil: Well, we are caring for the whole family through our home visit program – coordinating with the families to get them connected to our other programs that can benefit them. Our training programs like the plumbing, electrical, literacy, sewing, embroidery and our Diploma of Business Education program. This will help families become sustainable and releases the children from needing to work.
Tina: What is your dream for the school?
Wakil: My dream is to see them with us through all 12 years of their education and then be able to be part of our other training programs. My dream is to be with them all the way. I want there to be not only a place in our current school, but for us to have more schools that can serve more of these families. If we opened a new school tomorrow we would have over 1,000 first through third graders. There are that many children that we personally know that are waiting.
Tina: That’s a lot of kids!
Wakil: Yes. There many, many more than that – but we could impact that many families in just one day if we had the capacity. It destroys children to not be educated. For us, it is more than that – we want to serve the whole family. Our program is especially touching their hearts because we are focused on them as a family – and that makes a huge difference in the lives of our students.