A long light blue tunic on matching cotton trousers, a white veil half covering her brown hair, it is in school uniform that Mina Azimi, teaches. In the classroom facing her, sitting at their desks, some students are 17 years old. It's been four months since Mina is their teacher of "skills through sport". This module is unique in teaching in Afghanistan. Only Marefat high school, located in Dashte Bartchi, a district in western Kabul where the Shiite minority lives, has implemented it. Reportage.
" What are you proud of ? Says Mina to each of the students, at the height of her meter 55. " The goal of this course, " she explains, " is to teach girls self-confidence by relying on the sport, because it's hard to be a girl in Afghanistan. According to Amnesty International, Afghanistan is the worst country for a woman to be born. Mina explains that the lack of education in the country is the source of contempt for most men for women. " To stand up to them we need to trust ourselves, " she says. His class starts at 5.30 am in a room with decrepit blue walls. For 15 minutes, Mina delivers her secrets to becoming a proud girl. " Every day, congratulate yourself for what you have achieved," she says. It can be a small thing, a good note, help to a friend. But it's very important that you congratulate yourself , "she explains.
" I want to be the first Afghan astronaut "
Leaning on her desk, Shamsia looks at the one she calls her "leader". " I want to be the first Afghan astronaut to go into space, " she says with bright eyes. Her neighbor Hassina chooses to entrust her plans for the future in English: "I want to go to Harvard University in the United States, study to become a sports teacher and open my gym club to coach the other girls. I want to change attitudes here, fight against obscurantism and passivity . Hassina's father was opposed to the idea of attending these private lessons before yielding to his wife's insistence. " My father is illiterate. He thinks girls have to stay home and do housework like our mothers. But I learned that girls and boys are in fact the same. "
Gender Equality is one of the values transmitted in the Marefat institution which means "knowledge" and which aims to change attitudes in Afghanistan. Boys and girls are separated during classes as required by the Department of Education. In contrast, extracurricular activities are mixed such as football clubs, cycling, athletics or wushu , martial art from China. The high school was founded in Lahore and Peshawar in Pakistan in 1990 by Afghan refugees who fled the civil war that preceded the Taliban's takeover. The school moved to Dashte Bartchi in western Kabul in 2001 after the intervention of US-backed NATO-backed forces that ended the Taliban regime.
After fifteen minutes of class exchanges, the girls take the path of the court, dressed in their black sports tracksuit. They take off their veils and run around the central fountain, focused on their breathing. At the head, Mina who guides them, time in hand. " Sport helps a lot to build self-confidence, " she says. The girl, born in Iran, where her parents took refuge to escape the violence in the country, arrived in Afghanistan at the age of 13. " In Iran it's different. Girls are more independent. In Afghanistan, they are locked up. When we go outside, men stare at us. You have to be brave to go out. At first I looked at my feet. Now I walk with my head up , "she says proudly.
The daughter of a mason and a seamstress, the youngest of four siblings acquired her strength of character in a women's athletics club which she joined at the beginning of the year. She herself was trained to become a coach before starting her new job in her own school while continuing the school program. " I want to be a doctor later ," she says, " while continuing to coach the girls to give them confidence. "
" Now I have no problem saying what I think "
After 40 minutes of endurance and stretching, the girls separate to join their classics. Hassina confides: " Before, I did not dare to express myself in front of others. Now I have no problem saying what I think. The urgency is to help other girls discover their inner strength. Many girls in Afghanistan are subjected adds she. They think they can not do anything. Here I learn to be a hero and help other girls to become one, "she says with a smile.
Mina can she continue his courses if the Taliban reintegrate the society and the political sphere in case of peace agreement? She does not hide her deep concern about it. " It will be very difficult if it happens. The mere fact of imagining it is unbearable, she breathes. But even if they come back I'll do my best to continue what I'm doing and not change anything , "she says firmly, her eyes fixed.