Be Kirthi Jayakumar
In my last session with Zia, my student from Mazar-e-Shariff, I became the student. While Zia practiced his English through making effective speeches, I wound up the student of development, peace and peace-building, as I learned about Zia’s untiring work over the past many years.
While still a student, Zia was a volunteer with Eidana, founded and run by Airokhsh Faiz Qaisary. The organisation works with a mission to recognize the hardships working kids take on themselves by working on the streets to support their families financially. By gifting them a pair of clothes, shoes or school supplies, the team not only gains self-fulfillment, but also bring smiles and happiness on the faces of young children who are the only breadwinners of their families. Zia’s involvement with the team helped raise a whopping $1500 for the children. I also learned, in the process, that Eidana is the word used to describe the gift of one thing for Eid. I also learned, that Eidi refers to the monetary gift given to children by their elders, in honour of Eid.

An image from Eidana

I thought that was all, but I was in for a big surprise. Zia also told me about how he was a volunteer at the Lincoln Learning Centre, an initiative by Public Affairs sections of U.S. Embassies and the Department of Information and Cultural Affairs of Balkh. Zia’s work there made him realise that there was so much power in taking information, knowledge and learning to the masses – and that an educated lot are an empowered lot.
Zia also took me through another association he was part of, called Help and Inspire, founded and run by Kamelia, in Washington, USA. Serving with the long term goal of wanting to help poor children with education, HI is currently fundraising to help the poor and unfortunate children in Afghanistan to attain basic life saving necessities. There are more than 60,000 children who work on the streets of Kabul, Afghanistan. Our main mission is to prevent starvation and to promote education among the poor and unfortunate communities in Kabul, Afghanistan. Zia hopes that this project would be extended beyond Kabul, and into other parts of Afghanistan.
Adding to the list is the fact that Zia is a tutor and coordinator at the KEAC, or the Kabul Educational Advising Centre, where he tutors students in English. He runs free training workshops for those who are set to take their TOEFL exams to be able to study abroad. In this position, he has come to understand that a lot of students tend to fear learning the language, rather than enjoying themselves. He finds that a lot of students are forced to imbibe the rules of language by rote, which makes learning, speaking and listening to the language more of a chore, a task, than anything else.
To top it all, Zia is set to be a Civil Engineer, enjoys listening to TED Talks by Steve Jobs, Alireza Azmandian and reading books by Stephen Covey, Brian Tracey and Norman Vincent Peale. In one conversation, when we were engaged in a fierce debate on the theme of science-versus-religion, he left me with these words:
“Why can’t be both? They needn’t be mutually exclusive. Everything that religion teaches you feeds the soul. Everything that science does feeds the body.”
How’s that for inspiring?