Safe to Learn: This is Safia.

For many of our students, day-to-day life can feel uncertain, even insecure. We provide a safe place from the outside world where they can feel free to skate, learn, play and dream. We’re aiming to raise $200,000 by the end of December so we can continue to provide children with places where they are free from fear.


Safia was interviewed by Noorzai, and her name has been changed in accordance with Skateistan's Child Protection Policy. 

Safia is 11 years old and lives in an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp with her family in Mazar. They are not from Mazar, but they had to move from their home province due to conflict and fighting that made them fear for their lives. Afghanistan faces one of the world’s most acute internal displacement crises in the world, as a result of conflict, ongoing insecurity and natural hazards. Life in the camps can be tough, especially for children, whose education is often disrupted, or even abandoned all together. 

The IDP camp that Safia and her family live in is located close to Skateistan in Mazar. Safia first started participating in the Back-to-School program at the beginning of 2018. In the Back-to-School program in Afghanistan, children who are out of school join classes at our Skate School five days a week to cover three grades of public education in 11 months. Upon completing our accelerated learning program, students are enrolled into Afghan public school. 

The Back-to-School program was the first opportunity that Safia had to participate in formal education. The journey to and from school in her home province was simply too dangerous. Our Programs Officer, Noorzai, asked Safia what she did instead of going to school everyday. 

She said, “we didn’t go to school because our home was always in a state of war. We always slept with the sound of bombs and explosives, our homes were destroyed and we had to escape.” 

Instead of going to school, she helped her mother with her daily chores, and she played with her friends at home, not outside. There was no chance for her to do any physical activity, or play any sports. 

Often, the Back-to-School program is the only opportunity for our students to receive an education. It provided a safe haven for Safia to learn that she never knew existed. When she first joined the program, her educators noticed that she lacked self-confidence, didn’t know her lessons, and found it very difficult to read and write. They helped her make positive changes in the classroom. First they focused on helping her to read and write, and then were able to guide her through her lesson plans to ensure she understood what she was learning. 

Noorzai, asked her what it was like to join the program at Skateistan. 

“At Skateistan I learned how to read and write which is the most important for everyone to learn. When I first came to Skateistan, I saw everyone was happy and educators are kind, so it helped me to learn easy.”

There is an exam at the end of the Back-to-School program to enrol students into Afghan public school. In this exam, Safia got the second highest grades in her class of 35 students. She said, “I am very happy that Skateistan helped me from different angles, and made a lot of positive changes in my life.” Upon graduating from the Back-to-School program, Safia registered into the fourth grade of Afghan public school. She says that she is happy to attend everyday. 

Safia has now joined the Skate and Create program so she can continue participating at Skateistan. Recently she was chosen as a program leader for one of the Skate and Create program sessions. The other students had the chance to nominate a student, and chose her because she was helping other students to learn. Her educators are so proud of her as they witness her continue to learn and become a leader among her peers. 

From missing out on school and feeling afraid everyday, to joining the Back-to-School program, graduating, and attending Afghan public school, Safia has been able to leave a chapter behind that was rooted in insecurity, and has a place she can truly feel safe in at Skateistan. Now, Safia helps her brother and sister study, feels that she knows how to communicate with people, and how to respect them. 

We all need a place where we feel safe. Skateistan provides places where children like Safia are safe to skate, learn, play and dream.

Donate today to help us create places where children can be free from fear.