In downtown Decatur, an extraordinary school, called the Global Village Project (GVP), educates refugee girls ages 11-18. It is a private, tuition-free school. Many refugee girls arrive in the United States without a command of the English language and with gaps in their education. At GVP the students are taught in a loving and supportive environment and provided intensive instruction in English, academic subjects, and the arts.
Khaty and Farzana, who are 16 and 14 years old, have been students at GVP for one year. Both girls arrived in Atlanta on October, 2014 from Kabul, Afghanistan with their mother, Khadija. They came to the United States on a special immigrant visa because their lives were in danger.
The girls have thrived at GVP. Farzana likes it because, ”The teachers treat you with love and respect. They open their hearts to people and they care. They want you to experience life and the world. Everyone is like a family and we are like sisters.” Khaty has developed self-confidence and discovered the joy of reading. “Before I came to GVP I hated reading because I couldn’t speak and I could not read any words. Now I am really in love with reading books.”
Khaty describes being in the United States as being “in heaven.” “In my country (Afghanistan) some girls cannot go to school. They have to marry when they are 13 or older. Here, girls have freedom.”
When asked about her dreams for the future, Khadija has two wishes. First, that her daughters finish their secondary education and go to college. Second, “that we are at peace in the U.S., and as refugees, that we are accepted. We are Muslim so it is hard for us. We never hurt people. I want people to know that we are hard-working and try our best to prove ourselves. We can be successful and make America bright.”