The Story Behind the Story: The Bridge that Enabled Bahara to Go to School


Panjshir, 14 June 2016 – In March 2015, UNDP Afghanistan made a 2-minute video called “Choices”. The short film captures how UNDP’s programmes have given more options for a better quality of life to the Afghan people.

The film was mostly shot in the scenic valley of Panjshir, about two hours drive north of Kabul. Here, in Ghozo Omerz village, UNDP has built a 40-meter bridge that’s used by 120 families. Before the bridge, the village used to be cut off from ‪schools and ‎hospitals by a river with dangerous rapids. Parents were afraid to send their children to school because some had fallen in and died.

PanjshirCameraman Igor Ryabchuk films school girls running across a UNDP bridge as a part of our new video “Choices”. Photo: UNDP / Omer / 2015

One of the actors in the “Choices” video is Bahara, a 3rd grader from Ghozo Omerz school, who now has a safe way to get to class. We produced this behind-the-scenes story because we were touched by her truthfulness and youth.

Bahara and her classmates had a great time making the film. As she puts it: “People came to our school and took us over the bridge and we had so much fun.”

But there is a serious side to the story, too. Only around 1/3 of girls in Afghanistan have the chance to go to school, even though it can mean everything for their futures. Projects like this are helping to bring that number up.

BridgeBahara and her friends – young movie stars for UNDP. Photo: UNDP / Sayed Omer / 2015

“I am so happy and interested in my school. I have learned lots of new things already,” Bahara told us.

As for us, we learned what “infrastructure” and “development” really mean to kids like Bahara: the chance to go to school, to play with new friends and to be free.

The Ghozo-Omerz bridge is just one of UNDP’s 556 transportation-related projects. UNDP is working on rural development in all 34 provinces and more than three-quarters of all districts. In the past 11 years, we have implemented more nearly 4,000 projects reaching about 25 million beneficiaries.

This work is part of UNDP’s National Area-Based Development Programme and is supported by Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Spain and UNHCR.

 Bahara & her friends giggle as they take part in a short UNDP film shot in Panjshir. Photo: UNDP / Omer / 2015

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