Maria Khwaja

Maria Khwaja is the founder of Elun, a nonprofit organization dedicated to teacher education in the developing world. She is currently working with several training projects based in Pakistan, Britain, Tanzania, Rwanda and Bangladesh, with future initiatives in Morocco and Nigeria. A Pakistani-American, Khwaja completed her Master’s in Education at Oxford University and is currently a PhD candidate at Cambridge University with a focus on school equity and teacher quality. She is a former reporter at Fair Observer.
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A Farewell to Aleppo

As Aleppo falls, the world has forgotten about civilians in Syria. I woke up this morning to a video of an old Syrian man gesturing wildly at a camera as bombs tore up the concrete behind him. He looked like many Arab grandfathers I know, bearded and wearing a plaid shirt decorated with dust. On Twitter: images of soldiers carrying civilians out of a besieged city; women committing suicide... Continue Reading

Fair Observer

Empowered Women Will Lead MENA to a Better Tomorrow

Women in the Middle East and North Africa are the fulcrum of change. Mariam finally settles herself down on the floor after distributing pink cups of Arabic coffee to her guests. With a pink floral scarf and soft hands, she is similar to many middle-aged women we have encountered in our walk around the Palestinian refugee camp where she lives. But this woman is different. Mariam has worked... Continue Reading

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Women Hold the Key to MENA’s Future

Investing in women creates the sustainable change that the Middle East and North Africa urgently need. BACKGROUND When visiting a home in the Middle East or North Africa (MENA), it is the women who always appear to welcome the guest with a streaming cup of tea or coffee. While outsiders might view them as mystical Oriental creatures garbed in veils, the traditional hospitality and warmth of the... Continue Reading

Fair Observer

Refugees Suffer the Monster of Our Indifference

The people who suffer the most at the hands of our monsters are the ones we do not care to see, says Maria Khwaja. It is 3:50AM in Amman, Jordan. The call to prayer echoes across the city. I have just finished suhoor, the morning Ramadan meal. We are meant to be 30 minutes from the Syrian border today visiting refugees who live outside the camps. In over a decade of working in East Africa, the... Continue Reading

Fair Observer

Black Muslim Americans: The Minority Within a Minority

Maria Khwaja Bazi speaks with the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative about engaging in racial justice conversations within the American Muslim community. In 2005, Boston University hosted the largest Muslim prayer of the year for Eid-ul-Adha. As we ushered in members of the community, I noticed, for the first time in my student life, a large number of Black Muslims. I remember, in particular,... Continue Reading

Fair Observer

The Muslim Woman Who Fights Like a Man

An Australian boxer talks to Maria Khwaja Bazi about being a Muslim woman and someone from an ethnic background. Bianca “Bam Bam” Elmir is dressed in a sky blue shirt, squished on a Skype screen on an early morning in Melbourne. Although she is half a world away, her energy is evident even through a screen. Next to her is Jemma van Loenen, the producer of Bam Bam, the documentary. We... Continue Reading

Fair Observer

The Unapologetic Muslim Woman

Giving agency to Muslim women to tell their own stories is the only way to understand their identity. Background A cursory Google search for the term “Muslim women” largely produces a single image: a black sheet. Muslim women are this single stereotype: a black robe covering a brown-skinned, exotic, sexually charged damsel-in-distress. This image brings with it a host of other adjectives... Continue Reading

Fair Observer

Education Alone Cannot Eradicate Poverty

A top-down, one-size fits all approach to achieve Goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals will not solve the issue of poverty. In the developing world, one primary school looks like any other primary school. Although the children and teachers might speak different languages, the desks are always in military rows, the Oxford University Press textbooks are always torn, and the teachers... Continue Reading

Fair Observer

Syrian Humanitarian Workers Aid Fellow Citizens

As the conflict nears its fifth year, Syrians are still attempting to help fellow Syrians. Maria Khwaja Bazi speaks to the White Helmets. Earlier this year, Alan Kurdi’s death captured and held the attention of the international community, shedding light on the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean and the war in Syria. Yet while Europe deliberates over the thousands perilously trying to... Continue Reading

Fair Observer

An Open Letter to the Silent Majority

It is time for the silent majority in America to stand up against the power of men like Donald Trump. My favorite picture is of my best friend and I in 2002, arms around each other and in the tacky gym shirts worn by American high school students. We’re both grinning widely, her dark blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail, my black headscarf wrapped around my neck. Behind us, you can see... Continue Reading

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