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Nursing Afghan Student-To-Be Passes Test In The Global Eye

Afghan Mother Speaks Of University Goals After Image Goes Viral
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WATCH: Afghan Mother Speaks Of University Goals After Image Goes Viral

Jahantab Ahmadi had never heard of Facebook before this week, when an image of the Afghan mother of three nursing her baby during a university entrance exam took social media by storm.

Good news quickly followed.

She passed the exam, bringing her closer to her dream of an education. Then came news of a crowd-funding campaign to help assuage her fears that she would be unable to afford fees at the Nasirkhosraw Higher Education Institute in central Afghanistan's Daykundi Province.

Speaking to RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan during a trip to Kabul on March 23, the 25-year-old student appeared largely oblivious to her global exposure.

But she expressed a desire to help bring positive change to the Afghan people, "especially women" in her home province.

"Many women in Afghanistan, especially in the provinces, are illiterate," Ahmadi said.

The photos that brought her fame were taken by a lecturer who was monitoring the entrance exam for the institute's social-sciences program. Yahya Erfan was struck by the sight of the young woman, clad in a blue head scarf and a long overcoat, continuing to write out her exam answers even as she tried to calm her 2-month-old daughter.

Erfan recalled to RFE/RL that when the child began fussing, Ahmadi moved from her desk in the open-air classroom to the ground, where she could more comfortably nurse her baby.

Erfan said that he couldn’t resist taking a few photos of the scene, and later posted the images on Facebook.

The images have since been shared on Facebook and Twitter, with some social-media users starting the hashtag #JahanTaab and urging support for a GoFundMe campaign to help pay Ahmadi’s fees at the private university.

In an earlier interview with the Etilatrooz Daily newspaper, she had expressed concerns about being able to afford her tuition. When RFE/RL spoke to her, she said she was unaware of the efforts to help her financially.

The baby, Khezran, is the youngest of Ahmadi's three children, all of whom are under the age of 5.

Ahmadi, her husband, Musa Muhammadi, and Khezran all made the trip from their home village to Nilli, the capital of Daykundi Province, so she could take the entrance exam.

"I have always wanted to go to university, but we couldn’t afford it before," Ahmadi says.
"I want to continue my studies. I want to send my children to school so they can get an education and build comfortable lives for themselves."

"My wife has to study," Muhammadi, a farmer from an impoverished family, tells RFE/RL. Saying he believes in women's rights, he says, "I will support her as much as I can, to the best of my abilities."

In a conservative society where many men oppose women’s education and career ambitions, Muhammadi says, "It doesn’t matter if it’s a man or woman when it comes to getting an education."

Written by Farangis Najibullah based on an interview conducted by RFE/RL Radio Free Afghanistan correspondent Sabawoon Kakar in Kabul.

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    Farangis Najibullah

    Farangis Najibullah is a senior correspondent for RFE/RL who has reported on a wide range of topics from Central Asia, including the region’s ongoing struggle with the coronavirus pandemic and its economic impact. She has extensively covered efforts by Central Asian states to repatriate their citizens who joined Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.