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An African proverb says, “educate a girl, and you enlighten a whole community.” Trevor took these words to heart in meetings, or shuras, with Afghan elders. As a CIMIC officer, Trevor’s mission was to assess a village’s infrastructure needs such as clean water, housing and schools. He always made a point of asking if they had a school and if they were teaching girls. This would inevitably elicit laughter. Trevor chose to hear their cackles as a call to action.
The axe blow ended Trevor’s mission as a soldier on March 4th but his desire to help bring peace and prosperity to the Afghan people has endured.
In 2010, an unexpected $100,000 bequest from Vancouver property owner James Motherwell gave us the seed money for our Education Initiative. Our mandate is to fund scholarships for women in conflict zones to become teachers. And, to ensure that children have access to education to break the cycle of poverty that makes them beholden to their oppressors.
The initial scholarships will be awarded in memory of every Canadian killed in the Afghan War. The first will be the Bill Turner Memorial Scholarship in honour of Trevor’s friend and colleague, who was killed shortly after replacing him.
On 9 October 2012, a Taliban bullet transformed a 15-year old Pakistani schoolgirl into an international icon for the rights of girls to an education. At time of writing, Malala Yousafzai is recovering nicely in a hospital in the UK and her prognosis is splendid for a complete recovery. Malala’s friends Kainaat Riaz and Shazia Ramzann were wounded in the attack and remain in Pakistan. Kainat wants to become a doctor and says she is “more serious about pursuing higher education after the incident … Women make up half of our society and we have to get modern education…” Kainat comes from a long line of educators in her family and looks forward to returning to school. “I want to study. I am not afraid,” she said.
CBC journalist Mellissa Fung and I propose to establish a fund for Kainat and Shazia to defray the considerable costs of rehabilitation and support their dream of higher education. Your kind donations will help make a future for these exceptional girls. To donate, please click on the ‘donate now link at the top of the page. Thank you.