Edna is raising awareness about shootings in the U.S. that disproportionately affect black and brown students.
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Assembly

18 October 2018 | Volume 1, Issue 8
  A note from our editor:
I recently spoke with an exceptional young woman named Muzhgan, who teaches chemistry at a girls’ school in rural Afghanistan. When she’s not shopping at the bazaar to buy supplies for her students’ science experiments, she is meeting with parents to convince them to send their daughters to school. I’m excited to share my conversation with Muzhgan about her work and why Afghanistan needs more female teachers.

Also in this issue, you will meet student activist Edna Chavez, who discusses her experience with gun violence in the U.S. Photographer Monique Jaques captures life for girls growing up in the Gaza Strip. And we feature a group of Assembly readers from northern Nigeria.

Enjoy!
Tess
 
 
Q&A
 
 
 
Our daily reality of gun violence and trauma: Q&A with teen activist Edna Chavez

Edna
  By Luzelena Escamilla
Taking the stage at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington D.C. earlier this year, 18-year-old Edna Chavez described her daily reality of gun violence and trauma: “I have lived in South Los Angeles my entire life and have lost many loved ones to gun violence. This is normal. It's normal to the point that I learned to duck from bullets before I learned how to read.”

Edna shared how her 14-year-old brother Ricardo died during a shooting outside their home — every year routine gun violence in the U.S. kills thousands of victims like him and disproportionately affects communities of colour. Edna asked the crowds to chant Ricardo’s name and to remember her words: “Mi nombre, my name, is Edna Lizbeth Chavez. Remember my name. Remember these faces. Remember us and how we’re making a change.”

As a youth leader at Community Coalition — a nonprofit that works to combat addiction, crime, violence and poverty in South L.A. — Edna is helping build the next generation of student activists. I spoke with Edna to discuss the trauma of gun violence, how the government can support students of colour and her advice for other young leaders.

Luzelena Escamilla (LE): What do you wish more people understood about gun violence in South L.A.?
Edna Chavez (EC):
I want them to understand the day-to-day gun violence that we face. As students, I want them to understand the trauma that sticks with us. The lack of mental health resources that I mentioned in my speech — we have to travel outside of our community in order to get help.

It's also violence that has been ignored for decades. Now that young leaders have this platform — especially black and brown youth — we are making sure that the cycle is broken.

(LE): What changes do you hope to see in public schools in your community?
(EC):
Inner-cities schools need more funding. We need more resources — better books, better buildings, more teachers and smaller classes. Mental health resources and internship and mentorship programs for students, because there are students that may have to provide for their families as well. There are schools that don't even provide AP classes. We need AP classes as students of color. We want to strive for a higher education — we know that we deserve better.

Read more.
 
 
Reader spotlight
 
 
Luiza
Girls from Kano state in northern Nigeria read the latest issue of Assembly together. Thank you to our friends at @ACECharity for this awesome photo!
We love meeting our readers and seeing who’s part of our community! Share a photo of yourself on Twitter or Instagram using #MyAssembly and tagging @MalalaFund. Be sure to tell us a little about yourself and you could be featured in an upcoming issue of Assembly!
 
 
Behind the Lens
 
 
Gaza Girls
 
  When Monique Jaques first travelled to Gaza, what stood out to her was not the barbed wire, the armed soldiers or the drones — it was “the strength, creativity and vibrancy of Palestinian girls and young women.” Despite the ongoing conflict with Israel and the restrictions placed on their movements, their lives are filled with “everyday moments of joy and hope.”

Monique returned to Gaza over the next five years, determined to capture an authentic look at Palestinian girls. “So often we see Gaza through a dimensional lens of violence and conflict,” Monique explains. “Stories about quieter moments like these are often overlooked, though they offer a powerful look into world unseen by many.”

In this photo essay, Monique shares pictures and captions from her book, "Gaza Girls."

See more.
 
 
Sound Off
 
 
Nayir
“As a teacher, I aim not only to teach chemistry, but to also transform girls’ mindsets. I motivate them to work hard to change their families’ and communities’ mindsets about girls’ education.”
— Muzhgan, a Teach for Afghanistan fellow
Before Muzhgan arrived, the chemistry lab at the girls’ school in rural Bagram just sat gathering dust. With no qualified teachers, there wasn’t anyone to show students practical experiments. Muzhgan decided to change that.

Muzhgan is a Teach for Afghanistan fellow. With support from Malala Fund’s Gulmakai Network, Teach for Afghanistan recruits and trains recent university graduates like Muzhgan to increase the number of female educators in the Afghan public system.

For Muzhgan’s first experiment, she demonstrated the chemical reaction of saponification by teaching her students to make soap. The experiment was a hit. Students loved working with the ingredients and seeing the chemical changes occur in front of their eyes.

Read more.
 
 
Get published in Assembly!
 
  Assembly publishes original work by girls, for girls. And we would love to include your voice! Send us your ideas and you could be featured in the next issue.
 
 
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