Give Afghan Refugees the Gift of Education

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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


Women's Networking Movement

The Afghan Institute of Learning is very excited to have been given the opportunity to blog at Huffington Post! Our first blog about the Women’s Networking Movement taking place in some of AIL’s centers has been posted. The Women’s Networking Movement is taking place in about 30 of AIL’s centers, schools and clinics. The women coming to these centers are sharing thoughts and ideas in ways that have not been possible until recently. 

To learn more about the Women’s Networking Movement, check out our blog at Huffington Post

Creating Hope International, AIL’s partner, has set up a Facebook page where we will be sharing more news, pictures and information about AIL’s programs. Make sure that you ‘Like’ Creating Hope International on Facebook to get all the latest news! 


Thank you for your contributions towards the Afghan Institute of Learning’s education programs in Pakistan.

During 2012, AIL was able to educate 2,945 Afghan refugees living in Pakistan through it’s schools, learning centers and preschool education program. 

1,336 women were educated in AIL’s two learning centers. Subjects taught included English, literacy and Arabic. In June, AIL staff and the community decided to close one of the learning centers after deciding that it was no longer necessary. This center had been established to educate those refugees affected by the earthquakes in Pakistan, and by June of last year, most of the families had gone home.  

AIL’s preschool education program served 19 young students last year. AIL’s preschool education program has been held up as a model for other preschools to follow. Finally, during 2012, AIL’s 3 primary schools served a total of 1590 students. 

The Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) and Creating Hope International (CHI) would like to wish you and yours the happiest of holiday seasons.  As you celebrate with those you love, please take a moment to look at CHI’s yearly newsletter, which we’ve attached to this report. As you will see, 2012 has been a transformative year for AIL and CHI. After years of working tirelessly to provide education, training and healthcare to Afghans, we are beginning to see a real change. The minds of those AIL works with are being opened to the possibility of a peaceful Afghan society. 

AIL is in the process of finalizing a 5 year funding plan, which will be put into place beginning in 2013. We are looking forward to sharing the details of this plan with you soon, and hope that you will find it in your heart to give generously to help us reach our goal. The people of Afghanistan are making great strides, but our work is not done yet. Instead of backing down, we need to push ahead and continue to give Afghans the tools they need to create a more peaceful country. We are hoping that we can count on you to help continue our work. 


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Project Leader

Sakena Yacoobi

Founder & CEO
Dearborn, Michigan United States

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