We’d like to share some great news with you that will give you a better understanding of our project and the work we do in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Through the generosity of the Skoll Foundation, a timely video was produced about life in Afghanistan and the work AIL is doing to make a difference. The film producer and crew did a beautiful job capturing the essence of the best of the Afghan people, and the struggles they work with to achieve a better life. This film is now on YouTube, and it will be the best seven minutes you spend today. Moderated by Sakena Yacoobi, AIL’s executive director, this video offers a true taste of Afghanistan. Here’s the link to view it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7t1Xu_MwHg
We are also adding this as a permanent link to this project for future viewing.
Your donation makes a precious impact on the lives of Afghan men, women and children. We thank you for your past support, and encourage you to forward this message to those who can help to continue this important work.
A reminder: June 16 is a special Global Giving Matching Day! - GlobalGiving will be matching all donations up to $1,000 per donor per project for this project at a 50% match. If you could like to donate again to our project, your donation will go further on June 16th. Thank you for your support….
The women and girls in Fast-Track classes in the Afghan Institute of Learning’s Women’s Learning Centers (WLC) and schools range from school age girls, looking for extra help and to quickly further their education, to older women attending literacy courses. Many of the older women also come to the center to learn sewing, and become interested in learning to read. Having all-female classes allows a woman to get an education in an area with conservative cultural values. A student writes: “I am a girl who could not go to school due to my family’s strictness. I love to be educated. When I heard about Literacy class in this center, I came here and learned how to read and write. Besides, reading and writing I also learned how to sew the clothes and recite Holy Quran and now by the grace of Allah, I can read and sew too. I want to thank my teachers!”
Other AIL Accomplishments in 2009 included:
• AIL trained over 1,800 Afghan teachers in pedagogy subjects, leadership, human rights, and school health. These teachers went to their classes and directly impacted over 500,000 students teaching these important subjects.
• Nearly 23,000 students (primarily women and children) attended classes at AIL educational learning centers.
• Over 362,000 Afghans received medical treatment and health education from AIL’s 6 health clinics and community health worker program.
• In January 2010, AIL expanded humanitarian aid efforts with the harsh winter and reached out to 22 families in need. AIL staff delivered to each family quantities of rice, cooking oil and tea. Most heads of the family were widows with children from Herat, and were recommended by community members.
• In February 2010, flooding in the Enjil district of Herat destroyed many family homes, and AIL responded with a concerted effort of initial food aid.
Reminder: On March 16, 2010, GlobalGiving will be matching all donations made to any project on www.globalgiving.org by 30% (up to $1,000 per person)! If you could like to donate again to our project, your donation will go further on March 16th!!!
Afghanistan is in the news a lot these days. As a donor to a project in Afghanistan, you may be wondering if change is happening, and if your donation really makes any difference.
Following is a message from Dr. Sakena Yacoobi that answers your questions. It’s part of our annual newsletter, where we also share progress reports from several areas, and the impact AIL’s work is having in Afghan lives. This newsletter is below in a PDF format; we invite you to click on it and read ALL the details……
From Sakena Yacoobi:
First, I want to thank all of you for supporting the work of the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL). Your support is so important. Yes, the funds you send help us to bring education and health to so many Afghan women and children. But, more importantly, in this time of increasing violence and insecurity in Afghanistan, your support helps Afghans to know that they are not forgotten. It gives ordinary Afghan women, men and children the courage to keep studying, to keep going to clinics and to keep working for peace.
Today you probably hear that Afghanistan is a place of war, terrorist bombings, burning of schools, kidnapping, drugs and all kinds of other horrible things. And it is true that in every province of Afghanistan, including the capitol, every single day, these kinds of things are happening. But what you might not hear in your news is that everyday many women, men and children of Afghanistan get up in the morning….. say goodbye to their family…..and go to work….. go to schools and centers ….. go to trainings……because they know that they must be educated. They know that the only way they can stop these problems is to be educated. So they are learning, they are teaching and they are not afraid.
And when there is no electricity or no clean water or no school or no road or no job and there is no help from the national government or the international agencies, Afghans, particularly women, are joining together in community or with their local officials to find ways to solve their own
problems. And, with your help, AIL is helping them to do this.
I want to let you know that as dark as it seems to be in Afghanistan now, much is happening. Afghans, themselves, are changing. They are educating themselves; they are making sure that their children are educated; they are finding new ways to solve their problems. I would ask you to walk with us a little further on our journey towards peace.
TO READ the rest of our annual newsletter, please click on the PDF link below and it will open for your inspection-
Thank you for your support. Your desire to make a difference in this world has made a difference, and we are so thankful that Afghan people have had their lives changed with your help.
We wanted to share with you a very special opportunity to give more than 100% from November 10 through December 1st. Please share this with those you know who care. During this time, we are privileged to receive additional matching funds from your donation through Global Giving of at least 30%. The need is still great. Afghanistan struggles to become a country of strength and stability.
This Fast-Track Education project allows older girls and women to ‘ramp up’ their education. For smaller girls, they can quickly advance to the grade level they would have been at and then attend school with children their own age. For adolescents and women, they can learn a lot in a short period of time and can go on to higher education if they choose.
Azita started learning in the Sar Asia educational center in 2003. She has been encouraged by her uncle, who works as the supervisor of this center. She started learning literacy and tailoring skills in this center. She was talented, and was one of the top students in her class. She progressed so fast that she completed the 4rth grade of literacy and the tailoring course.
She says, “During that time, the regular school in the village was facing a lack of teachers, so I passed the test for hiring me as a teacher in the school. I have taught there for two years and at the same time I started to attend the grade five course in the AIL educational center. Very soon I took an exam in the regular school, and they accepted me in grade 9th in that school.
“Fortunately, when my parents saw my unbelievable progress they sent me to Herat city to live with my uncle so I could have a better opportunity to continue my education there. “Right now I am in the Mahjoobai Hirawi high school in Herat city and I am the top student in my class. I need to help my uncle’s family with their housework because I live with them. Once a month I go to my village to visit my parents.
“What I am now is because of AIL’s educational center in my village. It changed the direction of my life in the right way and now I have a positive vision to my life.”
There's a new focus on women worldwide. The New York Times magazine dedicated their entire issue one week in August on women in the developing world. Of particular focus was a newly launched book written by the well-known Pulitzer winning couple Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl DuWunn titled: "Half The Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide". The press focus on this timely book is significant- from reviews in Harvard and People magazine, to upcoming segments on shows like "The Today Show", the time has come for women and their issues worldwide to be in the spotlight.
Sakena Yacoobi and her organization the Afghan Institute of Learning is one of the topics in Chapter Nine of the book. Dr. Yacoobi grew up in Herat, Afghanistan and then came to the United States to study at the University of the Pacific and Loma Linda University. Concerned about the condition of her people back in Afghanistan, Sakena returned to Pakistan to work in Afghan refugee camps and later went to Afghanistan. Although the Taliban forbade girls from getting an education in Afghanistan, Sakena was instrumental in establishing a string of secret girls schools with community support.
Today, the Afghan Institute of Learning has multiple education programs in Pakistan and in seven provinces of Afghanistan. There are educational learning centers for women and children, preschool programs, post-secondary institutes, a university, and teacher training programs. In addition, AIL has an in-depth program of health education and treatment for women and small children. Since its start in 1995, AIL has trained nearly 16,000 teachers and over 3.5 million women and children have received a quality education. With the health programs included, AIL has directly impacted over 6.7 million Afghans.
Sakena has been and continues to be recognized for her work. Her philosophy is to develop a program from the grass-roots level so the community members are an integral part of the process. State Kristof and DuWunn in their book Half The Sky- "American organizations would have accomplished much more if they had financed and supported Sakena, rather than dispatching their own representatives to Kabul...The best role for Americans who want to help Muslim women isn't holding the microphone at the front of the rally, but writing the checks and carrying the bags in the back."
Dr. Yacoobi and the work of the Afghan Institute of Learning have been supported by multiple grantors and organizations over the years. "I wish to thank everyone who has helped in this important work," states Sakena. "I want to share with each and every contributor the joy of seeing a young woman, who has a renewed interest in life because she can now read, or the happiness of a widow who has learned a skill that will allow her to support her children.
"We now have children who are healthy because of inoculations, and women who did not die during childbirth who have happy, healthy babies. My wish is that these small steps that allow awareness and growth in families will lead to the growth of our country."
Recently, we spoke with Sakena, and she has this message to all the supporters of AIL:
"It is an honor to be included in Nicholas' and Sheryl's book Half The Sky. So many foundations and individuals have contributed to the work that the Afghan Institute of Learning has been able to do in Afghanistan.
"From the bottom of my heart I want to thank all who have understood the plight of Afghan women and children, and have reached out with compassionate, caring support.
"May God reward your generosity......."
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