The first female medics to benefit from a charity set up in memory of a Scots aid worker have graduated.
Linda Norgrove was killed in October 2010 during a failed attempt to rescue her from Taliban kidnappers in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province.
Following her death, the Linda Norgrove Foundation was established by her parents, who wanted to continue their daughter’s selfless work.
The foundation’s scholarship scheme provides grants to help women in Afghanistan fund their studies.
Now, in what’s being described as a milestone moment, Fouzia Sulatani and Frishta Mohebbi have qualified as a doctor and dentist respectively.
‘I can serve my people’
“I feel very happy. I feel very lucky that as a doctor I can serve my people,” Dr Sultani told STV News.
“They support me financially and encouraged me in every step of getting my education.
“Without LNF’s support I would not have been able to continue my education – it gives me a very special feeling that I can’t say in words.”
Ms Mohebbi added: “The scholarship allowed us to study our lessons and make our dreams real.
“Without the support of the Linda Norgrove Foundation, I couldn’t have done it.”
‘A huge difference’
Linda was determined to help people move towards stability, prosperity and equality as the war-torn country tried to rebuild following years of Taliban rule.
The 36-year-old from the Western Isles was particularly passionate about women’s education until her life was cut short.
Linda’s parents Lorna and John, who live on the Isle of Lewis, said the foundation had received a record 1700 scholarship applications this year.
“She thought that women getting educated made such a huge difference, because it not only helped the women, but the emphasis would be on educating the children too,” said John.
The charity’s success comes as Afghanistan faces a pivotal moment.
After being removed from power by US-led forces in 2001, the Taliban has started seizing territory again, with its sweeping gains sparking fears it could topple the existing government.
As US and British troops begin withdrawing from the country, the resurgence of the Islamist fundamentalist group has reignited concerns about what might happen should they regain control, especially in terms of women’s rights.
“Access to mobile phones and the internet has increased hugely over the past ten years and that creates different aspirations,” said John.
“Girls have gone to schools, more girls are keen to get on to further education, so those are all very positive things.
“But women are very worried that all this is going to be rolled back if the Taliban get back in power.
“People are very unsure about how hard line they are going to be, and whether the clock will be turned back to 2000, or if they are going to be more moderate, we just don’t know.”
‘She would be delighted’
John and Lorna said they were proud of everything Fouzia and Frishta had achieved.
They’re hopeful many other women will follow in their footsteps, with Linda and all she stood for and believed in living on through their daily work.
“I honestly don’t think that Linda would like to be remembered in any other way more than this,” John said.
“She loved the country and really felt she was making a difference there.
“She would be absolutely delighted, I’m sure, that women are benefiting from the organisation set up in her name.”