Melanie Nelson

Breaking Barriers for Afghan Girls’ Education!

Melanie, an American woman, defies borders and shatters barriers by reaching out to Afghanistan to uplift girls who are denied their fundamental right to education by their own countrymen, the Taliban regime. She supports an AFCECO safehouse in Kabul, which provides shelter to 15 girls and a family of 5 from a marginalized ethnic group living in remote villages in northern Afghanistan that lack schools, clinics, or roads. The presence of Islamic militants in this region has made life a hell for women and girls, who are often bartered or forcibly married to these militants. This safehouse offers these girls quality education and a safe haven for growth. Melanie’s efforts extend beyond charity; they are potent actions dismantling obstacles and reshaping futures. She stands as a beacon of hope, assuring them that the world hasn’t forgotten them and that they deserve the same opportunities as any other girl.

Life at Weia’s House of Hope

Life at Their Villages

Girls of

Weia’s House of Hope

  • 1. Rizwana
    Age: 14
    Grade: 6th
    In a small village in Nuristan, Rizwana's life began in turmoil. Her father, a drug addict, divorced her mother and was killed in a war between the Taliban and the government. Her mother was forcibly married off and passed away due to severe illness when Rizwana was six years old. Following her mother's death, her grandmother took custody of them but soon passed away as well. Rizwana's maternal uncle then took over. Influenced by ISIS and the Taliban, her uncle followed misogynistic customs, marrying off Rizwana's sisters one by one in exchange for cattle. Fortunately, luck was on Rizwana's side as she managed to escape being sold and found her way to an AFCECO safehouse in Kabul. Here, Rizwana's fate changed as she began attending school, now dreaming of becoming a professional musician.
  • 2. Amela
    Age: 9
    Grade: 3rd
    Amela, an orphaned girl who lost her father in early childhood, faced immense challenges as her mother struggled to provide for her and her siblings in a remote village in Nuristan, devoid of any income sources. Living in abject poverty, Amela's life took a significant turn when she was chosen to relocate to Kabul and reside at an AFCECO safehouse. Moving to 3rd grade in 2024, she attends a private school in Kabul, where she nurtures a grand ambition of becoming a professional artist. Amela speaks her native language, Nurstani, but she now can speak Dari and Pashto, and also a little English. This opportunity has opened up new horizons for Amela, offering her hope, education, and a chance to pursue her dreams beyond the limitations of her past circumstances.
  • 3. Bulbola
    Age: 9
    Grade: 2nd
    Bulbola had a very hard childhood. She lost her mom when she was little, and her dad, who struggles with severe mental health issues and behavior disorders, couldn't take good care of her and her three siblings. They were very poor and lived in a small, hard-to-reach village in the mountains of Nuristan, where pervasive poverty and primitive living conditions reflect a lifestyle reminiscent of ancient times. . Everything changed for Bulbola when she moved to a safehouse in Kabul run by AFCECO. Now she lives with 15 other girls, goes to school, and has lots of fun things to do.This new environment has opened doors to opportunities previously beyond her reach, offering hope, support, and a chance for Bulbola to thrive and break free from the constraints of her difficult pastBulbola had a very hard childhood. She lost her...
  • 4. Bushra
    Age: 9
    Grade: 2nd
    Bushra's childhood was marred by her father's abusive behavior towards her mother. He divorced her and abandoned the family, leaving the burden of supporting the children solely on the sick and uneducated mother. Living in a small village in Nuristan, where opportunities for women are limited and the resources are very limited, they struggled to survive in extreme poverty. Bushra and her siblings faced severe poverty, malnutrition, and illness. But fortune shifted for Bushra overnight as she found a new home at an AFCECO safehouse in Kabul. She is now a hardworking student, filled with hope and ready for a new chapter in her life. Bushra has a passion for sport, and perhaps one day she will pursue her dream of becoming a professional athlete. Best of luck for her!
  • 5. Mariam
    Age: 7
    Grade: 1st
    Mariam's father abandoned his family years ago and is believed to have fled to Pakistan, where he may have started another life, as he has not returned or contacted his family since then. This abandonment left Mariam, her three brothers, and three sisters in the care of their struggling mother, who found it challenging to provide for seven children. Tragically, one of Mariam's brothers drowned while attempting to cross the river to gather firewood, further adding to the family's hardships and worsening her mother's severe depression. Despite these challenges, Mariam's life took a positive turn when she was selected to move to Kabul and live in an AFCECO safehouse, where she now attends a private school.
  • 7. Jaria
    Age: 8
    Grade: 2nd
    Jaria's father works as a shepherd in their village in Nuristan, taking a large number of goats to pastures in far valleys from dawn to sunset. This leaves her sick mother at home all the day with their four children. The family is very poor and does not have their own house. They live in a small home provided by Jaria's grandfather, next to his stable. Jaria's father has a mental disability and does not socialize with others, leading to isolation from the community. Despite facing a difficult childhood in the village, Jaria has excelled and is now one of the top students in Kabul, where she resides at an AFCECO safehouse. Jaria has a passion for painting and dancing, and she now enjoys a happy life as a hardworking student.
  • 6. Gul Roman
    Age: 6
    Grade: 1st
    Gul Roman's father has two wives living in the same house, along with a total of 15 children. The father is often absent, trying to find sources of income, and is barely aware of what is happening within the family. The two wives frequently engage in fierce battles over food for their respective children. This dire situation has turned Roman's home into a miserable place, where the children often fall ill without access to proper treatment. The kids are forced to roam around villages in search of food, putting them at risk of frequent sexual abuse by others. Fortunately, Gul Roman now resides in a safe and happy environment at AFCECO's safehouse in Kabul, far away from the past misery. She now attends a private school in Kabul, studying hard for a brighter future and wants to become a martial...
  • 8. Khalida
    Age: 6
    Grade: 1st
    All Khalida’s siblings have some kind of problems that cause them to have difficulty walking, likely due to a genetic issue or lack of calcium. Their village is located in the far valleys of Nuristan, where accessing medical care requires days of walking to reach the nearest clinic. Their father's small income from a village shop is barely enough to sustain his eight children. They live in poverty, in a servant quarter provided by the shop owner, set in his backyard. Yet, Khalida's circumstances have greatly improved since joining AFCECO's safehouse in Kabul, where she receives necessary medical attention. With her mobility much improved, she now walks to school each day. As a diligent 2nd grader, Khalida is now focused on her studies, eager to shape a more hopeful future.
  • 9. Munira
    Age: 13
    Grade: 5th
    Munira is one of nine siblings, all of whom struggle with mental health issues, a situation likely exacerbated by their harsh living conditions. Her father, himself born to impoverished parents, has always worked in servitude, never owning anything. Providing for such a large family has been an immense challenge; his labor in the fields earns him little more than a few loaves of bread, hardly enough to satisfy his children's hunger. Upon arriving at the AFCECO safehouse, Munira exhibited signs of severe depression and behaved unusually. However, this year marks a significant improvement; she's thriving academically and has developed a strong passion for her studies. Munira is also beginning to form friendships within the safehouse. Although healing from her trauma will take time, she's making remarkable progress in her education.
  • 10. Rabia
    Age: 10
    Grade: 2nd
    Rabia comes from a family of five sisters and one brother. Recently, one of her younger sisters fell victim to a child marriage, being traded for 10 goats to a much older man. Outraged by her daughter's forced marriage, Rabia's mother feared for the safety of her other daughters. She reached out to the AFCECO team in Nuristan, pleading for help to rescue her daughters. Due to limited resources, AFCECO could only bring Rabia to one of its safehouses in Kabul. Here, Rabia is safe from being sold and has the opportunity to attend a private school. Despite the challenges she has faced, Rabia excelled in her studies last year, demonstrating her determination and resilience. Rabia loves reading and often tells stories to the other girls in the safehouse. She is loved by all for her charm and kindness.
  • 11. Zainab
    Age: 9
    Grade: 3rd
    Zainab is Alina's younger sister. Their father has two wives who reside in the same household. Dealing with a serious illness, their father struggles to manage the challenges of a large family and the complexities of a polygamous household. Zainab's mother was married at a young age to a man 20 years her senior, adding to the family's hardships stemming from extreme poverty. Raised in the AFCECO orphanage, Alina was exposed to liberal and progressive ideals, which influenced her to provide educational opportunities for her younger sisters. Alina took Zainab to an AFCECO safehouse, where she served as her guardian during this period of transition. At 9 years old and in the 3rd grade, Zainab is now one of the most talented students in her class, loves arts and excels in various activities at the safehouse.
  • 12. Zomra
    Age: 9
    Grade: 2nd
    Nine-year-old Zomra is the eldest of five sisters, each born within a year of one another. Their mother was married at a very young age and gave birth to six children in less than seven years. Despite her youth, Zomra's mother's health has deteriorated due to continuous pregnancies and the challenges of caring for six young children simultaneously. Recently, her health has declined to the point where she can barely attend to her children. The father works on farms cutting trees far from their village and only returns home once a month. The family's economic situation is dire, with all the children suffering from malnutrition. Zomra's new life at the AFCECO safehouse in Nuristan presents a stark contrast to her home environment. Here, she has the opportunity to attend a private school and participate in online English classes, offering her...
  • 13. Dania
    Age: 10
    Grade: 1st
  • 14. Taiba
    Age: 14
    Grade: 5th
    Taiba is a highly talented girl known in her village for her skill in playing games with other girls. She and her four siblings have crossed eyes, likely due to a genetic issue. Due to a prejudiced tradition, Taiba felt negative about her eyes as they were looked down upon by many, leading to persistent feelings of depression and loneliness. However, since arriving at the AFCECO safehouse, Taiba has blossomed into a happy and engaged student. She is a versatile individual with a passion for reading, painting, and singing. Her dream is to become a professional medical doctor.
  • 15. Alina
    Age: 20
    Grade: University student
    At the age of seven, Alina's life took a significant turn. She was uprooted from her village in Nuristan, a place overshadowed by isolation and the looming threat of ISIS, and found refuge in an AFCECO orphanage. This new environment starkly contrasted with her previous life, where the influence of militant groups often led to young girls being forcibly married off in exchange for a few cattle. Witnessing the positive impact of AFCECO on girls from her village, Alina's aunt was inspired to alter her niece's destiny. Undertaking a challenging journey across mountainous terrain, she reached Kabul to plead for Alina's admission to the AFCECO orphanage. Alina completed her education at AFCECO, and after graduating from high school, she gained acceptance into a prestigious university to study political science. Unfortunately, the university was closed by the Taliban, prompting Alina to...