Razia Jan, founder and president of the Zabuli Education Center, has worked for many years to forge connections between Afghans and Americans.
Born in Afghanistan, Razia moved to the United States in 1970. For two decades she was the proprietor of a small tailoring business in Duxbury, Massachusetts, where she served as president of the town’s Rotary Club.
Deeply moved to make a contribution in the wake of September 11, 2001, she rallied her adopted New England community to send more than 400 homemade blankets to rescue workers at Ground Zero. Her efforts expanded to include sending care packages to US troops in Afghanistan. Through her involvement in the military’s Operation Shoe Fly, she coordinated the delivery of over 30,000 pairs of shoes to needy Afghan children. She made handmade quilts commemorating September 11, which have been exhibited at Madison Square Garden, the chapel at the Pentagon, and at fire stations in New York and Massachusetts.
When Razia learned of a historic former boys’ school in the Afghan district of Deh’Subz that had been nearly destroyed during decades of war, she began planning to rebuild the school and provide Afghan girls with a more promising future. The Zabuli Education Center opened its doors in March 2008, and now provides free education to more than 400 Afghan girls who were previously denied an education. Through education, these girls and young women have an opportunity to escape the vicious cycle of poverty, malnutrition, and hunger.
Razia has spoken on women and children’s issues at venues around the world. She is a member of the Interfaith Council and No Place for Hate, and a member of the board of directors at Jordan Hospital. She has received many awards for her humanitarian work, including the 2007 Woman of Excellence award from Germaine Lawrence Inc., multiple Rotary Club International Peace Awards, and certificates of appreciation from the Army Corps of Engineers and the American Legion. In 2011 Razia was honored by the Duxbury Rotary Club with their inaugural Amazing Woman of the Year Award. In 2012, Razia was named a CNN Top 10 Hero. Razia also received the 2013 Speak for Thyself from the Alden House Historic
Site and the 2013 American Muslim Women's Empowerment Council Award. In 2014 she was named Social Innovator by the Lewis Institute at Babson College. In 2015, Rotary International honored Razia with a Global Woman of Action award at the United Nations in New York.
Today, in order to continue her humanitarian work, school administration, and fundraising efforts, as well as spending time with family, Razia travels frequently between Afghanistan and the United States.