Back to school, at last

When I took this image in late November, the scene was being repeated all across Afghanistan. As the Taliban's hold over the nation crumbled, city by city and village by village, girls began returning to school. They had been locked out for five years. In the case of Jalalabad School No. 2, girls began showing up in droves less than two weeks after the Taliban had fled. No books were available, and no desks. Classrooms had no windows and, in a few cases, no walls. Some classes had to meet outside, with students sitting on the ground. Because of the long hiatus in their education, young women of 15 or 16 had to register for fifth grade. But though the students lacked preparation, supplies, and facilities, the expressions on their faces and the fact of their presence showed that they had some vital things in abundance: resilience and patient resolve. They had prevailed. They would succeed.

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