Let’s put our hands together, let’s get together.
Our hands hold our votes and our votes hold our future.
My fellow citizen It’s my vote, it’s your vote
It’s a privilege for enduring peace
My dear fellow citizen, with our vote leadership is in our hands.
On April 5th, an historic election was held in Afghanistan. Over 7 million voters participated, and the elections were generally a peaceful affair. We at AIL hosted election workshops leading up to the vote, and asked the managers of our Learning Centers to educate students at the centers about why the vote was important, what steps they needed to take in order to vote, how to research and select candidates, and how to vote.
The effort to encourage Afghans to vote was not limited to our workshops and Learning Centers however. At a private school owned by Dr. Sakena Yacoobi (our CEO) the Arts and Culture Teacher, Mehrjui, set a poem she had written about the election to music. The song encourages all Afghans to become aware of their responsibilities, to select a good candidate for President and to vote. The PSYPS Arts and Culture students sang this song at a celebration on International Women’s Day as well as at our election workshops. The song was incredibly well received, moving many in the audience.
The students, staff, and administration at the school quickly realized how powerful their song was, so with the help of the AIL Academic Advisor and the AIL video production team, they set about recording their song so that it could be shared with a wider audience. They had no idea how popular the song was about to become.
The song quickly went viral, being aired on Afghanistan’s National TV station, as well as on eleven other stations. The song has been played many times over and candidates running for president even asked if they could buy the song to use in their campaign. The PSYPS students and staff declined to sell the song, deciding the purpose of the song was to encourage all Afghans to participate in the elections, not to support just one candidate.
As Afghanistan moves closer to a runoff election this summer, the song continues to be played on the radio and the video over the airwaves. In short, the song continues to encourage Afghans to participate in the upcoming elections and to make sure their voices are heard.
We encourage you to take a moment to view the video made by the students, to read the lyrics below and to see the hope in these young people’s faces. After watching, we hope that you will stand with the youth of Afghanistan, and join us as we work with them to create a peaceful future for their nation.
With one vote, we can be our sultan, our voice
For a better choice for a better leader
My dear fellow citizen, with our vote leadership is in our hand
My fellow citizen, stride, my fellow citizen!
With the name of God, we speak from the power of our thoughts
From our decision, unity, humanity and right
No longer speak of suicide bombing, explosion, but of creativity and pride
Don’t speak of the hills under the thorn
Speak of the friendship of verdant soil and the rose garden
Speak of spring, spring and spring
Let’s hope that this spring Afghanistan will turn into a magnificent garden. A garden in which the smell of every rose invites the world for a spectacle.
Let’s hope for a different spring, for a different year and for a different Afghanistan
Don’t forget my fellow citizen, our rendezvous is in front of ballot boxes on April 5, 2014
Our choice is the remedy
Our choice is for the day of rendezvous
Who we want will be crowned sultan
Attend the opportunity with passion and turn the enemies into wretches
This colored finger is the guiding path and this fist is the hummer for the oppressor
AIL is continuing its efforts to improve rates of literacy through providing literacy classes but also through providing literature both in book and magazine form and by supporting libraries.
The Citadel Library in Herat, supported by AIL continues to attract people with visitor numbers of around 170-200 in the winter months. One month there were 176 visitors (48 female) with 153 from the university. AIL promotes the art of calligraphy by publishing a book on the subject for use by teachers in schools and learning centers and also by providing a class at the Citadel for 23 male students.
AIL publishes books and magazines and distributes its magazines to AIL centers in Heart, Kabul and Peshawar and to schools, in addition to governmental organizations, ministries such as education, information and culture, social affairs, economy, agriculture and to the health sector such as clinics. In 2013 there were two issues of this colorful and well designed magazine called Nada e Taleem. The magazines cover a wide variety of topics from health, sport, AIL news to elections, poetry, jokes and children’s literature. When someone picks up a magazine it is an opportunity to educate them about many things and to reach people with messages about how they can improve their lives, engage in their communities and know what is going on in the country.
The first magazine print run was for 1,500 copies and included topics such as: teaching methods, poet Jami, mental health for the pregnant woman, vitamins, profiles of active and hardworking women who have helped their communities, social entrepreneurship symposiums offered by AIL, poems about forgiveness and community building, AIL’s work during the year, children’s literature, an article on the economy, young poets and their writing, building of Professor Sakena Yacoobi high school, jokes and humor page, sports, interview with a young author, map of Afghanistan, Nadia Anjoman – young poet and writer a victim of family violence, talented youth photo page.
The second print run included information such as: prayer in daily life, Dr. Yacoobi speech at Festival DD Kosambi in Goa about violence against women, youth participation in democratic process, elections and social entrepreneurship. There was also a letter from Sohaila Erfani, a teacher of literature faculty of Herat, about international conference of love and forgiveness of Mulana held by AIL. In this article she described the dignity of women in community. Other topics included internet safety practices, AIL activities, celebrating Teachers Day, best poets, Festival of Grapes in Herat. There was an interview with the Director of Department of Women Affairs in Herat. She spoke about conditions of women in Herat, for example, the problems they have and the facilities they are able to use. She thanked AIL for its creative approach and capacity building activities for women.
The health page included information about diseases of the winter season like colds and diarrhea, new information about vitamin C and describing fruits that contain the most vitamins and explaining importance of vitamin C for a healthy body. There was also a profile of a well-known poet who has created meaningful poems and an interview with the principal of Professor Sakena Yacoobi High School about placing top in a recent competition among schools in Herat, also stories and fun activities for children and jokes and poems.
Thank you for your interest in AIL’s work in Afghanistan and particularly its efforts to improve literacy.
Improving rates of literacy is crucial to the development of Afghan society and crucial to individual families as they strive to improve their life circumstances. AIL’s project to provide books is part of its overall literacy program.
The calligraphy book published by AIL has proved very popular with students who have found it useful for learning this historic craft. 1,000 books were distributed to AIL learning centers and 800 books to private and regular schools and 600 books to the Ministry of Education and finally 600 books to AIL Kabul and AIL Pakistan . Here are the comments of one student:
"My name is Hamidullah and I am a high school student. I had been always ashamed with my handwriting because I didn't know the rules of writing. It was until I found a book that was published, printed and distributed free by AIL. This book really helped me to improve my handwriting. All rules of calligraphy were explained very clearly by examples and that was very interesting for me. It is a self-study book so that everybody can learn as fast as possible. My handwriting developed quickly in a few weeks of practice with this book. Now I have very nice hand writing which I had never imagined I could have before. I really enjoy when I write something on the paper with ink or pen. Besides, I learned a lot about calligraphy which I am proud of. I thank AIL for changing my hand writing."
The Citadel Library in Herat, supported by AIL continues to attract people with visitor numbers per month remaining in the 350 range. AIL’s magazine remains an ongoing publication covers a variety of subject matter and most recently included the topics of education, health, the role of women in change, peace, democracy, justice, advocacy, ideation, entrepreneurship, cultural issues, social affairs, business, economies, administration, leadership, art and entertainment. These magazines are very popular and passed around frequently. This is another way to provide variety of reading matter to people who have very limited access to printed matter other than the textbooks they use in class. AIL distributes its magazines to its centers in Herat, Kabul and Peshawar and to schools, in addition to governmental organizations, ministries such as education, information and culture, social affairs, economy, agriculture and to the health sector such as clinics.
Attached to this update is our year end newsletter. We hope you will take a few moments to look it over.
Dear GlobalGiving Donors,
Thank you so much for supporting the Afghan Institute of Learning’s (AIL) various projects on GlobalGiving. Over the years, the Global Giving donors have become invaluable to AIL. Through your generous support, AIL has been able to provide Afghans with education, health care, training and more.
It is your continued support that is now allowing AIL to evolve along with the young people of Afghanistan. We’d like to share with you the story of how one young woman’s life has been changed thanks to one of AIL’s programs:
I am a 19-year-old woman with two children. I had always wanted to go to school and learn to read, but there was not a school close to my home. It was not safe for me to try and travel to another village to go to school, but I always told myself that if I could go to school, I would be able to get a job and reach my goals.
It was painful to me when my brother learned to read and write, but I couldn’t. One day I watched some women and children who were going somewhere. When I saw that one of them was a woman who had an 8-year-old girl with her, I stopped her and said “Excuse me. Where are you going?” She answered, “A learning center has been established for illiterate women and their children recently. I am going to register myself and my children.”
When I heard this, I was so happy and I said to her, “Please wait a minute. I want to go with you and start to take classes too.” I joined them on their way to the learning center. When we arrived, I was so excited because I saw a lot of women there who had been learning.
Now, I can read and write and I can say proudly that I am literate. I have also learned to be healthy and to be a leader. I am reaching out and touching my wishes and goals. I thank AIL for this opportunity to reach my goals.
Thank you for the support that you give to AIL. We are so grateful to all of our supporters for their continued support of our projects on GlobalGiving. Thank you!
AIL is committed to improving literacy rates in Afghanistan as literacy is the gateway to improving life circumstances and economic opportunity. As part of its literacy drive, AIL provides books to libraries including the Citadel Library in Herat which regularly receives book donations each month. Approximately 300 students and members of the public now use this library each month for research and pleasure
AIL’s printing and publishing operation recently produced 200 invitations which were donated to the local Literary Association and two banners for workshops. AIL in Herat published 3000 copies of a 68 page book for students to use calligraphy. AIL plans to distribute this book in Kabul and Herat to teachers and students of regular schools and some will go to AIL Learning Centers. The Education Department of Herat thanked AIL for producing this book and for pursuing the goal of improving writing. The Culture and information Department of Herat also praised this effort. Calligraphy is an important historic art in Afghan culture and reviving this helps people to connect with their history and traditions.
During the last few months AIL has been gathering together articles for its magazine which will be published soon and details will appear in the next report.
Thank you for your continued interest.
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Founder & CEO
Herat and Kabul,