For people in the region of Tora Bora in Afghanistan, Osama Bin Laden was a hero. Now that he is gone, there should be "change", argues Mina Wali, founder of a private school in the disadvantaged area.
Mina Wali, who in 2006 opened a private school in the region of Tora Bora in Jalalabad province, an area known to the West mostly for the caves in which Osama Bin Laden was believed to be hiding, was in Brussels to deliver the message that even such a disadvantaged area can break away from terrorism.
Having left her country at the age of 17, during its occupation by the Soviet army, Mina Wali spent 28 years in California. But in 2005, she returned to Afghanistan and founded Hope of Mother, a private school with more than 400 pupils, both boys and girls.
"People are very traditional in that area, but they accepted me very well. It's different from Kabul, which gets a lot of attention. But I decided I should touch the untouched area. That was my goal, and that's the reason I went to a rural area," she explained.
Mina Wali now hopes that her success could be replicated across the country, admitting that "thousands" of such schools are needed.
She said that in her school, pupils are not only taught school subjects but also good manners and to help run their households, in preparation for becoming "beautiful housewives" and "good husbands".
Wali said she had enjoyed fruitful cooperation with AMI (Assistência Médica Internacional; International Medical Assistance), a Portuguese NGO, but also hoped to develop new contacts. She urged those interested to establish contact via her organisation's website.