Give Afghan Refugees the Gift of Education

Students, like Zahra, in a tailoring class
Students, like Zahra, in a tailoring class

Dear Friends, 

Thank you for your support of the Afghan Institute of Learning’s efforts to provide education to Afghan refugees living in Pakistan. During 2013 a total of 1,718 Afghan were educated in AIL learning centers and schools. AIL currently supports a preschool program, one learning center and three schools.

The preschool program provides education for very young students, teaching them the basics they need to succeed when they start school. The schools are providing a high quality education to school age children and the learning center is providing skill and education to older students, mostly women. 

We’d like to share the story of Zahra, a 24 year old refugee attending classes in AIL’s Learning Center. Zahra is one of three children. She and her sister were very eager to attend school, but her father was a very strict man who didn’t want his wife or daughters to leave their home, much less go to school. Despite this, was clear that he did value education because his son was allowed to attend school. 

Going to school was a dream for Zahra and her sister. Her relatives advocated for her to be able to go to school, but he wouldn’t consider it. Every day, Zahra’s desire to go to school grew, she became interested in sewing and began making clothing for dolls. Her father, however, would not be swayed.

In order for her brother to continue with his education, the family moved to an area with a high school. The new neighbors asked why Zahra couldn’t go to school, and having to answer this over and over made her very sad. The neighbors pled the girls case, but it did no good. Their father said the girls were too old to go to school now. 

One of their neighbors was a teacher at a school near the AIL Learning Center. She came to Zahra’s house and told her mother about the Learning Center. She told her that the classes were free, and the girls were not too old to go there. Zahra’s mother spoke with their father and after some time, he gave his permission for them to attend. 

The girls and their mother joined the literacy and sewing classes. They have learned so many different techniques in the sewing classes, and Zahra began selling the clothing she made to her neighbors. 

Zahra was able to complete both the literacy and sewing classes. She continued to work at home to earn money. Soon she got engaged, and she was able to sew herself a beautiful dress to wear at her engagement party. When guests asked about the dress, she was so proud to be able to say that she had made it. After getting married, Zahra moved to Canada with her new husband. 

In Canada, she is making and selling traditional Afghan clothes. She is able to earn money to support both her family and family still in Pakistan. She said “I am very happy to be able to work and earn for my family. This is all because of AIL. I am so thankful to have had this opportunity, and that AIL has opened centers to help women and girls. I always pray for AIL, they changed my life.” 

Again, we’d like to say thank you for your support. Your support is helping to teach women like Zahra skills that help them to live a better life. Thank you. 

Women in a Leadership Workshop
Women in a Leadership Workshop

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for your support of the Afghan Institute of Learning’s schools and learning centers for Afghan refugees in Pakistan. These schools and learning centers are often the only place where the refugees can receive education and training. During the later part of 2013, the AIL staff in Pakistan has been able to offer several leadership workshops to refugees at these schools and learning centers. The workshops have been very well received, as you can see below. 

The Afghan Institute of Learning office in Pakistan offered a leadership workshop to 40 women. After the workshop, one of the participants said, 

I am very thankful for the opportunity to come to this workshop. The information was very useful, and very important for me to learn. All of the participants and trainers were very kind and friendly. We were given the change to talk and tell each other our stories, and I learned a great deal from these stories and from the things the trainers told me. When this workshop began, I was too shy to share my stories, but each day I became more brave and took part in the discussions. I was very happy to be a part of this workshop, and I will share what I have learned with my family.” 

Attached to this report is our Year End Newsletter. WE hope that you will take a few minutes to read through it. 


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!

Dear Friends, 

Thank you for your support of the Afghan Institute of Learning’s continued efforts to provide education to the Afghan refugees living in Peshawar, Pakistan. AIL is currently offering classes in three schools, one Learning Center and one preschool. 

Summer holidays began in June for the 1,443 school students. The students finished their year by taking exams at the beginning of June and receiving their marks in mid June. School will resume in September. 

There are currently 193 people studying in the Learning Center. The majority of students are women, and most are older student who are unable to attend a traditional school. The students are studying Arabic, English, Literacy and Sewing. 

During this school year there were 11 students attending the preschool class. As summer hit in Pakistan, the classroom became very hot and during the summer many of the families began to travel. For these reasons, the preschool classes have temporarily been suspended, and the AIL staff is hoping they will resume in the fall. 

We wanted to share with you the story of an older student who was able to attend school because of first studying at an AIL Learning Center. We hope you enjoy her story, and please know that you have helped to make this possible. Thank you. 

My name is Zargona. Twenty years ago I was born in a northern province of Afghanistan, and all I remember is war in my country. When I was 5, the Taliban came to Afghanistan and war began again. First my family moved to Kabul, but the war forced us to move to Pakistan. We have been here for 15 years.

After we moved, my father struggled to find work. Sometimes he was able to work as a handy man, but it didn’t pay very well. He did his best to support my family (I am the middle of 5 children). Because things were so hard, days went by and no one thought about us or our future. We didn’t know about school or education, but, as we grew older, we began to feel like something was missing. That thing was education and literacy. 

We asked our parents ‘Why don’t we go to school and learn some things?’ We wanted to go to school and get an education, but no one listened to us. Eventually, the camp we were living in was torn down to make room for buildings. After we moved, my mother would go to other houses to clean, but my sisters and I never left our house. We were like blind people who did not see anything. 

One day one of our neighbors told us that his children attended an AIL school. They said that the education is free, and that we should ask our father. I was too old to go to school, but my younger brother and sister were able to attend. After a few months, my brother and sister came home and told us about AIL’s Learning Center. They told us that it was a place for older girls and women to go and learn. I couldn’t believe it, but my neighbor told me it was true. 

I asked my father, but he said no. He wanted us to be home every night. Finally, my grandparents convinced him to let us go. On the first day of class, my father went with us and talked to the principal. I joined the English and literacy classes and my sister took literacy and sewing. In one year we had completed the courses and four years later I can read news and magazines, and I have passed my last literacy exam and now I can attend the AIL school and am in the sixth class. 

Before it was like I was in the dark, like a blind person, but now I feel that my personal and family life has changed for the better. I can help our family; our economic situation is better; I teach English to housewives and girls to help make money. I am happy to support my family. Thank you to the AIL staff for giving us this opportunity. I want to continue to learn and become a good teacher to help my people. 

Dr. Sakena Yacoobi receives her hood at Princeton
Dr. Sakena Yacoobi receives her hood at Princeton

So many wonderful things have happened for the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) in the last few weeks, and we’re very excited to share a few of them with you. 

First, on Tuesday the Executive Director of AIL, Sakena Yacoobi received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Princeton University. The official citation reads: 

With a profound reverence for the well-being of others, this visionary leader devotes her life to the empowerment of poor Afghan women and children. With an unwavering commitment to social justice, against all odds, and often at great personal risk, she built and sustains an institute that makes healthcare and education possible for the most vulnerable. It owes its success in establishing clinics, teaching children, and training educators and caregivers to the deep and lasting ties she has forged with the people she serves and with global communities of care. After decades of work, she is still creating hope, in her home country and throughout the world. 

Additionally, AIL has had two articles posted at The Huffington Post. The first focuses on AIL’s belief that Education Is the Way to a Healthier Country

The second article details AIL’s Mobile Literacy Program, giving details of how adding texting to a traditional literacy curriculum helped to accelerate the pace of learning.

Finally, tomorrow is a Global Giving Matching Day, and because AIL is a superstar partner, all donations will be matched at 50%! Matching will begin at 9:00 am EST and funds generally run out after just a few hours.To select a project that you might like to donate to, visit AIL’s page on GlobalGiving


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Project Leader

Sakena Yacoobi

Founder & CEO
Dearborn, Michigan United States

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Map of Give Afghan Refugees the Gift of Education