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.
Winter is coming to Afghanistan and can be brutal. As reported by the UN, more than 70% of Afghans are food insecure and approximately 8.5 million Afghans are on the verge of starvation. Although the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) works to empower women and other needy Afghans to provide for themselves and is not a direct relief provider ordinarily, AIL does provide food assistance to those who are in the greatest need, particularly in times of emergencies and in the winter. AIL is presently working with villagers to identify those who are the neediest as winter approaches. Your donation will help those who are in extreme crisis and need.
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......."
Recently, AIL was asked by the Afghan Ministry of Women’s Affairs to report on the impact AIL’s programs have had. We were amazed by our findings. Since beginning in 1996 through May 2009, 220,970 Afghans have been educated and received skills training in AIL schools, centers and post-secondary programs. 27, 619 Afghans (more than 70% female) have received teacher training or capacity-building training. AIL has supported 13 clinics serving 998,088 patients and providing health education to 1,520,374 women and children. Overall 6,778,026 Afghan lives have been directly impacted by AIL programs.
As AIL receives funding for this project, it meets with community leaders in areas where there are severe emergency situations. In the last three months, there has been no dire emergency in areas where AIL works. AIL will use the small amount of remaining funds that have come in as well as future donations for dire emergencies.
After recent heavy rains, the west side of Herat City experienced flooding where some Afghans lost their homes. After the flooding, community leaders came to AIL asking for support for the displaced people. The leaders told AIL that these people were suffering from a lack of food and housing.
Sixty-six families (approximately 370 people) affected by the flooding were each given a bag of rice which can feed a family for at least 20 days.
Last winter in Afghanistan, international aid organizations were not prepared for the number of Afghans that would be in need of food assistance because of the harsh winter to keep them from starving, so the Afghan Institute of Learning helped to fill this need. So far this winter has not been as harsh and it seems that international aid organizations have been much better prepared for winter and fewer people have been without any food at all. Currently, AIL staff is working to identify Afghans that are in desperate need of food supplies, and will begin delivering food to people in need during March and April.
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