A message for a new year.

What a year this has been. What a truly amazing year.

I suppose all of us, on December 31st, tend to find ourselves thinking back over the previous 364 days – and as I do so now, the memories come flooding in: from welcoming our new class of 6th graders in March to moving forward with our expansion plans to receiving the Malalai Medal in honor of the work we do. I’m so grateful that each one of you reading these words has been a part of SOLA’s story this year. 2018 has just been remarkable.

And not only for us: it’s been remarkable for my country, too. In Kabul, we’ve seen – I’ve seen – so many struggles over the years. I was born here, I was raised here; no matter where I go around the world, when I’m here, I’m home.

I wish all of you reading this could see the beauty of my city with your own eyes. The Hindu Kush mountains rise up around us; I wish you could see these mountains as the snow falls. I wish you could walk with me through our streets; I wish I could take you to our shops, and to our mosques, and into our homes, and I wish you could hear the voices of men and women, just like me, who know that the future of this country is a bright one.

And make no mistake about it: it’s a future where curious, confident young women will stand in the lead. It’s a future where young women will have a voice that no one can ignore. This is the future we’re working to build. This is the future that each one of you is a part of.

It’s quiet today at SOLA. Our students have gone home; our school year is over. Winter is here, but spring is coming, and when it comes it’ll bring a new class of 6th grade girls to our campus…and it’ll bring our first-ever class of 9th graders, too.

Happy New Year, from me and from everyone at SOLA – there will be so many more stories to tell in 2019, and I’m glad to have you with us.

Shabana Basij-Rasikh