Laila Noor

A woman on a mission

“The children are the future of each country”, Laila Noor says. Since the Afghan-born woman is someone who would still plant an apple tree even if there was no hope left, she is tirelessly working towards a major goal: the founder of the Independent Afghan Women Association wants to bring education and change to her native country.

In the past 17 years, she helped to build four schools with several buildings close to and in Kabul, since then, about 18,000 boys and girls are schooled in solid, fully-equipped buildings instead of provisional huts and tents. For Laila Noor, it is important that both sexes have a chance to get an education, because with that, bridges of understanding and mutual respect can be built. Almost 60 percent of the Afghan population are analphabetes.

For the empathic, combative Noor, education is the key to life. According to the mother of two, education and information are the strongest weapons against fanatism and discrimination. As daughter of the former mayor of Kabul, she got a liberal education. With 17, she went to Berlin and studied German at the Goethe Institute.

In Hanover, she was apprenticed as a fashion designer and went then back to Kabul. In Kabul, Noor worked for the US embassy and, from 1971-78 in the culture and press department of the German embassy.As the Russian army occupied Afghanistan in 1979, she went with her familiy at first to Bremerhaven and then to Bremen. She is living there still. The petite, energetic woman raised the two sons together with her husband and founded her fashion label “LN-fashion design”.Her designs enchant with their elegant cuts with traditional designs made from old Afghan embroidery: “I have built a bridge to public attention by combining art and culture.

And thus, I give the women, who are not heard, a voice” – and she, moreover, started to work for her native country. In lectures and exhibition, she lent the Afghans, especially the women, her voice. Since then, she campaigns, without regard for her own sensitivities, for the advancement and education of Afghan women and girls. Whenever the political situation allows, she travels to the country at the Hindu Kush. Disregarding all obstacles, Laila Noor works consequently in building schools with unrestricted access for girls. She fights for the education of widows and handicapped women and girls. And, at the same time, she brings the Afghan culture into a charming focus for people in Germany and Europe.

“Never lose hope, my love, miracles blossom in secret” is not just a quote from her favorite Afghan poet Rumi. It is Laila Noors guiding principle. But, when something depends on it, she can be forward and lively, goal-orientated and not without a gripping ambition on the political stage or at an event.

In the meantime, Laila Noor’s voluntary engagement was honoured with several mayor awards, among them also the Federal Cross of Honour. She does not like talking about that very much. She’d rather tell us about the joyful eyes of the children, thankful for the opportunity to learn and with the chance of a better future.