Portrait of a Hero: Razia Jan – Students at the school are released on their lunch break. Many armed groups in Afghanistan oppose the idea of girls being educated, and there have been violent attacks on some schools.
Portrait of a Hero: Razia Jan – Jan meets with tribal elders in the village to speak about the school and girls issues. She said she has found it difficult to change a deep-rooted stigma against women's education.
Portrait of a Hero: Razia Jan – Jan welcomes a new student, right, to the school. It costs $300 to teach each girl for an entire year, but all the fees are covered by donations to Jan's nonprofit, Razia's Ray of Hope.
Portrait of a Hero: Razia Jan – Jan registers two young girls for the start of the next school year. She said she will have to refuse some girls next year, however, as she doesn't have enough classrooms and teachers.
Portrait of a Hero: Razia Jan – Jan lived in America for decades, but she moved back not long after the September 11 attacks. She said she noticed that women and girls were still struggling from years of Taliban control and oppression.
Portrait of a Hero: Razia Jan – The girls have to take off their shoes before entering their classroom.
Portrait of a Hero: Razia Jan – Jan's school teaches math, science, religion and three languages: English, Farsi and Pashto. "Most of our students are the first generation of girls to get educated," Jan said.
Portrait of a Hero: Razia Jan – Photographer Veronique de Viguerie lived in Afghanistan for many years. "With this education," de Viguerie said, "some of these girls will be able to protect Afghan women, to find solutions for the future, to be the change of the country."
Portrait of a Hero: Razia Jan – The Zabuli Education Center teaches kindergarten through eighth grade. "When we opened the school in 2008 ... 90% of them could not write their name," Jan said. "And they were 12- and 14-year-old girls. Now, they all can read and write."
Portrait of a Hero: Razia Jan – To shield the students from attacks, Jan has built a new stone wall to surround the school. She also employs staff and guards who test the water for poison and check the air quality for gas. "People are so much against girls getting educated," Jan said. "So we have to do these precautions."
Portrait of a Hero: Razia Jan – A teacher at the school corrects a girl's homework.
Portrait of a Hero: Razia Jan – "I hope that one day these girls ... will come back and teach, because I'm not going to be there all my life," Jan said. "I want to make this school something that will last 100 years from now."
Portrait of a Hero: Razia Jan – Photographer de Viguerie said, "Razia is a very energetic lady, she has a strong mind, and it's always a nice surprise to see such a woman in Afghanistan."