Kara Lozier – founder / director
I am the founder and director of ROYA – Resources of Young Afghans, through which I have been counseling, mentoring and supporting young Afghans in various ways. Independently and as a community coordinator for U.S. government-sponsored exchange students, I have supervised, lived with and/or placed students from over two dozen countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Eastern Europe. It was through this work that I developed my passion for working with Afghan students and founded ROYA in order to formalize my role as an academic advisor and mentor for Afghan students.
When I visited Afghanistan in the winter of 2016, I had a very modest vision of the ROYA Mentorship Program. I saw the poverty firsthand and was struck by what an enormous gamechanger it is for young Afghans to learn English and develop computer skills – a luxury that poor people could never afford or even consider. I knew very talented and qualified Afghans who were unable to compete for jobs, scholarships, conferences, grant funding and other opportunities because of a lack of English proficiency. I wanted to offer sponsored English classes for ten needy students in Bamyan and worried about finding ten sponsors. Partnering with Asif Sultani, Shoaib Mehryar, and Asif Rasooly changed everything! In less than one year, the four of us transformed this modest vision into a hugely successful, award-winning initiative which has helped over 100 young people in Bamyan and Kabul. In July 2017, Aziz Mahdi and Haidar Khairkhah joined us when we added 70 students in Ghor Province. It is something that I believe will become a legacy for all of us.
Mohammad Asif Sultani – co-founder / local coordinator-Bamyan
I am Mohammad Asif Sultani. I was born in Jaghori District of Ghazni, Afghanistan. I completed my secondary education in Pakistan and am currently a second-year student at Bamyan University majoring in English Literature. I have held various positions teaching English and computer classes since 2011. In addition, I have served as a project manager for ISAF and a project coordinator for the German charity organization, Help INGO.
Since arriving in Bamyan in 2013, I have been an active member of Bamyan society and have sought opportunities to better the lives of people in the community. I identified the need for an English language center and founded Pioneer Educational and Cultural Organization in 2014. Through Pioneer, in addition to language and computer classes, I offer free Friday discourse sessions for the public about a variety of topics conducted by local scholars, professionals and some international speakers. The sessions are very popular and are normally attended to fullest capacity. The topics have ranged from the history of the Hazara people to psychology to information sessions on scholarship opportunities.
Before I started collaborating on the ROYA Mentorship Program, I thought it would be impossible to help needy people because of the challenges in my own life. But then I understood that there are many people who need our help and guidance. As a result, ROYA changed my life and path. The students now feel totally different than a year ago which has made me more hopeful.
Shoaib Mehryar – co-founder / local coordinator-Kabul
I am Shoaib Mehryar. I was born in the Afghan province of Ghazni and, before my 1st birthday, we moved to Quetta, Pakistan because of the civil war. I returned to Afghanistan after graduating from Ferdousi High School to pursue my higher education and am now a freshman at the American University of Afghanistan. I have been an English Language teacher since 2013. I have taught at several different English Language centers including the U.S. Embassy-funded English Access Microscholarship Program.
As a child, I worked selling chewing gum, cleaning and tailoring to earn money to help my family. I lived my childhood in poverty and it was filled with grief and sorrow. However, my childhood experiences are among the main reasons I co-founded the ROYA Mentorship Program in Kabul. I know how the children in poor communities suffer and what their dreams are. The coordinators, sponsors, mentors, and volunteers in ROYA are like a family. We have gathered together to make a life-changing difference for each child, to bring smiles to their faces and happiness into their lives. These things mean the world to me.
Azizullah Mahdi – co-founder / local coordinator-Ghor
I am Azizullah Mahdi, born and raised in the Lal wa Sarjangal District of Ghor Province and founder of Ghor’s only private school, Rahnaward-e-Noor High School. I earned my bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the Indian School of Business and Management. My professional career began in 2005 when I started to work for Afghanaid, an international charity serving the development needs in remote and marginalized Afghan communities, like Ghor. In 2016 , I joined the international charity, Action Against Hunger, serving vulnerable people in Ghor affected by the ongoing conflict or by natural disasters.
The struggles of needy families are familiar to me. As the oldest child in my family of thirteen, I was responsible for their financial support. From the age of 17 until I was hired by Afghanaid, I worked different difficult and dangerous jobs as a street peddler, carpet weaver, livestock trader and selling clothing and goods to resistance soldiers fighting on the frontlines during the Taliban occupation.
I have always felt a responsibility to help the youth and others in my community. In 2011, I established Rahnaward-e-Noor High School to improve the capacity of local students and aid them in reaching their goals. It is my hope that one day graduates from Rahnaward-e-Noor High School will be the most positive and effective members of their communities.
Haidar Khairkhah – co-founder / local coordinator-Ghor
I am Haidar Khairkhah, born in the Lal District of Ghor Province. I graduated from Bamyan University, Department of Geology and have been active in cultural activities and civil society since my school days.
During my university studies, I served as a member of the Advocacy committee with Afghanistan Civil Society Forum Organization (ACSFO) where I worked on an advocacy program, and received training on: good governance, advocacy, gender, and civil rights. After graduation, I became a trainer for ACSFO in Lal District and learned about the valuable education offered at Rahnaward-e-Noor High School. I began to serve as a volunteer executive member of the school and agreed to work as the school principal.
Besides my work at ACSFO and Rahnaward-e-Noor High School, I am a civil society representative in Lal District advocating for human rights, women’s rights, and conducting workshops for civil society associations. I believe there is nothing more important than providing education for and empowering the young generation.