Give Afghan Refugees the Gift of Education

 
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Since 1995, the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) has been helping Afghans lift themselves above the devastation of war by providing education, training, health care, and health education.  AIL’s approach is to interlink health and education programs, like building blocks that together form a whole structure.  While delivering these basic services AIL has also been able to promote critical thinking skills and model and teach human rights, women’s rights, peace, democracy, and leadership. With new skills and information, Afghans are becoming empowered and hopeful. Through your financial support, you have been a part of these seeds of systemic change.

Through the natural progression that exists when people begin to think for themselves, AIL often receives requests from Afghans who want to find ways to work together to promote love, understanding, and forgiveness to their people in order to return to a peaceful way of life; the way of their country’s history.  Supported by Fetzer Institute,  AIL is responding to these requests by holding an International Conference on Love and Forgiveness this Spring that will be shared throughout the country and internationally via film.  This conference will focus on the study of Afghan poets and musicians, particularly the work of Mawlana (Rumi).  Participating in the conference will be poets, writers, Sufis and government representatives from all parts of Afghanistan and the world.

Joining the Conference, in person, or via film or writings, are:

  • Poet Coleman Barks; known as the pre-eminent translator of Rumi, the great 13th century poet and teacher.  Mr. Barks’ writings and translations have filled 15 books that are more popular than other renderings of these ancient words.  They make Rumi’s raptures accessible to the world beyond their creation.
  • Stephen Olsson, President of CEM Productions, has produced and directed documentary films, television series and feature news reports throughout the world for US and European broadcasters.  He also produced and directed: Afghanistan: The Fight For A Way of Life, which was broadcast throughout the world and cited by The New York Times as one of the best documentary films of the year.
  • Divine Mother Audrey Kitagawa, a former attorney, practiced in Honolulu for twenty years, and became the spiritual leader of The Light of Awareness International Spiritual Family, a worldwide community based in Hawaii. Divine Mother Audrey is a prolific writer on matters of spirituality and multiculturalism and serves on many global, spiritual and UN advisory boards, including as Advisor to the World Federation of United Nations Associations.

AIL invites you to join Afghans in thought and through your own study of music and poetry that brings us all closer to the peaceful world we endeavor to achieve.

It is always especially poignant to me when I hear a story of hope from someone who lives in very difficult circumstances.  Here is a story from an afghan refugee who is now attending the Zarghoona Ana Learning Center in Pakistan:

My name is Zakara and I am from Panjshir Province.  I live with my father and my two young brothers.  My mother died when I was five and I have had to take care of our home and my brothers. Because my family is very poor, I could not afford to go to school before.  My family lives very far from the city, but recently I came to the city to work cleaning houses, washing clothes and washing dishes to earn money and support my family.  One of the houses that I worked in is near the Zarghoona Ana Center, and the children from my employer’s family go to this Center.   I told my father about the Center and he said go there and get an education.  So now, I work half a day and go to the Center the other half and attend literacy class.

 I hope to complete my education and become a good teacher in the future.  I will then help other people as they have helped me and I will open a free school for the poor.”

Please keep in mind that Wednesday, March 14, 2012 is Bonus Day through GlobalGiving.  Donations up to $1,000.00 will be provided with a 30% match.  The bonus allotment is $50,000.00 and the period runs from 12:01 AM EST until the funds are exhausted.  So, if you would like your donation to go a little further with the help of GlobalGiving, give early on March 14th.  Thank you!

During 2011, nearly 1300 students attended classes in the two Learning Centers established in Pakistan for Afghan refugees.  Additionally, there are three schools in the area that the Afghan Institute of Learning helps to support that have more than 4000 students, of which the majority are Afghan refugees.

We fully believe that education is key in providing a brighter future for
these refugees.  Thank you to all of you who helped this year.

Aleya, a student at the Zarghoona Ana Center in Pakistan, is a refugee from Afghanistan and unable to attend school before she came to Zarghoona Ana Center.  She is studying literacy at this Center.  She says, “I am now in the 9th class and all of this is because of the AIL office.  Before, I was very sad and I felt something missing in my heart and my life was dark.  But, now, my eyes are bright and I can understand everything.  Also, I now solve my problems and enjoy every step of my life.”

One young Afghan boy who now attends an AIL-supported center in Pakistan had this to say:  “My sister and I were working for our family and collecting dirt, useless papers and things from the street and around the shops.  A shopkeeper told us about this center and asked why we don’t attend.  We joined the center and now we are very happy because we can read everything and the world is bright for us.  Our teacher encourages us a lot.  I study and work very hard and have obtained first position in my class.”

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Project Leader

Sakena Yacoobi

Founder & CEO
Dearborn, Michigan United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Give Afghan Refugees the Gift of Education