TWO Muslim schoolgirls organised a sponsored Ramadan one-day fast for their classmates to raise money for girls' education in Afghanistan. 

Regina Suddahazai and Anah Zakeer, pupils at Burgess Hill Girls School, led an assembly for their fellow Year 12 pupils explaining the month of Ramadan, which ended on May 1.

The girls, who themselves fasted for the month between sunrise and sunset, said they wanted to raise awareness of the Islamic culture and create positive change by fundraising for Education, The Lifelong Mission, or ELM, an organisation that helps girls to be educated in Afghanistan. 

The Argus: Anah and ReginaAnah and Regina

Anah said: “Understanding of different cultures and religions is a fundamental tool for a truly inclusive society, especially in a time when Islamophobia is on the rise which is what motivated us. 

“We hope to make it easier for more Muslims to feel welcome and cared for at school especially in the younger year groups when it can be difficult to have confidence in your identity in a predominantly white school.  

“Given the four decades of war and conflict in the country, education has been one of the most affected areas in Afghanistan. 

“Despite the efforts of the Afghan government and international community since 2001, the adult female literacy rate remains only 17 per cent, with a high variation from the urban to the rural areas. 

“Being from a girls’ school, we recognize the value and importance of education and want to help those who aren’t as lucky as us."  

The Argus:

The girls all fasted from 4am until 8.17pm and marked the end of the day by gathering in school for lftar, the meal that breaks the fast, which was provided by Anah and Regina’s families. 

Burgess Hill head Liz Laybourn said: “We are always striving to be as inclusive as possible and make sure that everyone feels welcomed in our school. 

“By fasting, the sixth formers who took part got a sense of the self-discipline that is required for Muslims during Ramadan and that boosts empathy and understanding. 

“We are really proud of Anah and Regina for thinking how to simultaneously widen cultural understanding and raise money for such an excellent cause.”