Fereshta Mehraeen
This essay was written by ROYA-Bamyan student, Fereshta Mehraeen, who will be starting 10th grade. She is the only girl in her family and has four brothers. Her father pleaded for us to accept her in our program. Fereshta plans to study law in the future and wants to be a judge.

ROYA-Bamyan student, Fereshta Mehraeen, has been learning English through the support of sponsor, Yalda Royan, since the Fall of 2016. She and nineteen other ROYA-Bamyan female students attended a weeklong leadership conference in late December that was held at ROYA’s facility in Bamyan. Her essay follows:

YWLC is a conference which is provided in many provinces in Afghanistan. This conference has different parts that teach us the way of a leader and being a young woman leader in Afghanistan. The conference organizers, Gharsanay Amin and Sana Ahmadi, senior law students from the American University of Afghanistan, spent a week in Bamyan teaching me and other participants how to lead a group and the way of good leadership so that we can begin work in our country and develop into successful leaders in Afghanistan. They taught us to believe that we can improve our country in every way and be the best.

26170728_206449859919651_6843470101154017896_oIn the program, there were about 30 girls. Most of the girls were from the ROYA Mentorship Program, but some girls from other places and schools joined us. In the conference, we did different things. We had some local guest speakers who joined us in Bamyan and many speakers from around the world who talked to us via Skype. At the end of each guest speaker’s talk, they shared their email addresses, phone numbers and Facebook names so we can have a relationship with them and speak to them while developing our action plans or about other things. The speakers were also young leaders from around the world who taught us how to lead and important skills in leadership.

Gharsanay and Sana are always trying to do their best. Since they were also young women, the girls who participated are more motivated to become leaders. The goals of the program are to improve and inspire young women to have a good future for themselves and to believe that they have the ability to work as well as men in Afghanistan.

25659474_205677566663547_7513194767966414588_nWe had many group works, group activities, and personal activities about leadership. The trainers gave us very useful information about leadership. Sometimes we had fun and it was so interesting for everybody. It was fantastic for me. All the girls who participated in this conference were very motivated to come to the conference every day. We gained a lot of experience from this conference. The impact it had on me personally was that after this I will participate in programs like this everywhere. I can share my experience with others because of the confidence I gained from being a participant in this conference. Our trainers were very proud of us. Now I can speak in a crowded place and voice my opinion because I learned the skills from this conference.

One of the best points of this program is the action plans we were required to develop. We divided into groups of between four and ten girls and chose different action plans to implement in the future. The action plan that my group chose was to gather some small boys and girls in a specific place, maybe Mahbooba’s house, and teach them. We will help them in school subjects to help them be ready for studying in school when school begins again. Also we want to provide this to poor children so they can study without paying any money. In addition, weekly we will show them some cartoons and animations to make it fun for them. We will have a relationship with their family and parents to help them feel responsibility for their children’s studies and to pay attention. My team members were Mahbooba, Nazgul and Shegofa.

26170122_206450563252914_6314257404269129677_oIf we always have programs like this, many girls can participate, and we will be more social and more active. All of us had some favorite times together that we will never forget. One of those times was the last day of the program when we shared one good and one bad memory of our life with each other. It was nice.

All of us learned many lessons from this leadership program that will help us in the future. The lessons that I personally learned are that being a good public speaker will have the best effect on listeners. Now I can speak in a crowded place and in front of a lot of people and have a nice speech. Also, I learned how to listen to others nicely and to learn the key points from their speech. I can have relationship with the speakers we met and get help in my works and my action plan. I learned how to lead a group now and in the future.

Quotes from other ROYA participants:

Mahboba Hussaini –  “I was feeling frustrated in the past, I thought I am a girl and the society does not need my contribution, someone else might be there to change the things! BUT now after YWLC I am very energetic and I consider myself the strongest person. I do understand that my country needs me and I should be a counter force against all the bad things and be a responsible citizen of my beloved country.”

Angela Samar – “I learned that I should not only think for myself or my family, but consider the broader picture and empower everyone around me, we women are the changing forces and have the potential to change the world”!

Ruqia Jafari – “I have big goals for the future, I was confused where to start from to achieve my goals in the past, YWLC was a push for me to take the step and I see myself near towards achieving my goals, I know where to start from, and how to get where do I want to end up! I am equipped with enough tools and confidence!”

Conference organizers were Gharsanay Amin and Sana Ahmadi, both senior law students from the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF). So far YWLC has provided leadership trainings to more than 300 girls in four different provinces and plans to extend the leadership trainings to all of Afghanistan. See their bios below:

YWLC had a series of activities regarding ethnic harmony, effective listening, effective communication, trust circle, decision making power, self -awareness, self-discovery, action plan implementation, community mapping, needs assessment, and leadership skills training. They also welcomed national and international speakers who are exemplary leaders in their communities. The participants were able to use their newly earned English skills with all of the foreign guest speakers and benefited from meeting many great new role models across the world and in their own communities. Here are the thirteen speakers who participated in the Bamyan program.

See a slideshow of images from the 2017 Bamyan-YWLC here:

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