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In January 2002, two Quakers, Edith Cole, a retired school psychologist, and Joe Franko, a math professor, traveled to Pakistan, hoping to find a way to help some of the more than 2 million Afghan refugees displaced by the years of war and invasion and the subsequent American bombings. The two were mindful of the advice of William Penn, "Let us then try what love will do."
The United Nations Commissioner for Refugees directed them to a camp near Akora Khattak in the Pehsawar area. There they met Rahmatullah Rahimi, an Afghan teacher who had started to teach a few girls in his home because there were no schools for girls in their communities.
At home in California, Joe and Edith raised funds from friends and hired Rahmatullah as Head Teacher. Very quickly, seven simple mud brick classrooms were built around a courtyard, eucalyptus trees were planted, and young Afghan and Pakistani women were hired as teachers. Each classroom was provided with a blackboard, floor mats and fans for the hot months. In April 2002, the first school opened with 200 girls attending. Because the need for schooling girls is so great, the project has now grown to include two schools with a total of 600 girls receiving a basic education – first through sixth grades.