Give Afghan Refugees the Gift of Education

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Thank you for all you have contributed towards AIL’s goal of educating Afghan refugees in Pakistan. While conditions are still challenging, AIL is seeing positive changes in the lives of those Afghans that it works with. 

Through September 2012 AIL has educated 629 children in it’s preschool education program in Pakistan, 536 people in it’s Learning Centers and 1587 students in schools. This is a total of 2,752 Afghan refugees receiving education in AIL’s schools and centers. 

AIL’s Executive Director, Dr. Sakena Yacoobi was recently interviewed and asked her opinions on unlocking the potential of Afghan women. Here is what she had to say, 

“ Afghanistan, for about 35 years has been at war, and through this war situation, the women have been abused and violated against all the time, and also a major part of the society ignored the part of the woman... if you ignore 60% of society, you are not getting anywhere.”
“ Women have the capacity if you really give them the environment, if you really work with them and give them opportunity, they will blossom and they will nourish and they will be able to provide so much for the nation that the nation will go through transformation.”
“ So in order to really build this nation, we must work with woman and children, and that's we're doing. And through working with women and educating them, we have been reach, like, about 9 million people so far in my 15 years. 9 million people when we reach, right now all of a sudden we see the transformation is taking place. Women are more empowered. They go to the task force, they go to the political arena, and they are working toward democracy. They understand. Before, they didn't understand what we're trying to ask them what to do, and in order for them to understand, we must educate them and give them awareness. And through many, many workshop, like leadership workshop, management workshop, peace education, we help the woman to help themself.”
“ Through this process of educating young woman and young girls, I have seen many, many lives have been changed, their style of life change, they become very powerful. They become self-sufficient.” 

Don’t forget!  The holidays are a great time to share your passion for AIL and the great work that they do! GlobalGiving offers gift certificates which can be used to donate to AIL’s projects. Also, beginning December 1st, the initial donation made by recurring donors will be matched 100% by GlobalGiving. There is only $25,000 available in matching funds, so help AIL take advantage of this opportunity early!

Every now and then we receive a truly inspirational story that exemplifies the effect that AIL can have on the lives Afghan refugees. The following is one such story that we found very moving and would like to share with you. 

My name is Fauzia and I am a 22-year old female originally from Kabul. 17 years ago my family came to Pakistan. I was 5 and the right age to begin attending school, but because of my family’s unfortunate situation I wasn’t able to go. Neither were my brother or sister. At that time, we lived in a refugee camp, which has since been destroyed. We then moved into an old house near by.

My father was very poor, and had a heart problem. We went to a doctor at the free hospital and my father was given lots of medicine, but it did not help. Day by day, my father became more ill. Finally, after four years my father died.

My mother was an illiterate woman. She did her best, finding homes of Pakistani and Afghan people to work in. She washed clothes and dishes, and cleaned houses. At this time my siblings and I were 7, 5,  and 1 years old. When my mother went to work, we stayed home with my sick father and once he passed away, we were locked in the home. Day by day, we grew older, but we never knew what school was. What is education? What is knowledge?

After many years, we began to notice many children going to school, and I asked my mother where these children in special clothing, with special bags were going. She told me there were going to school to learn. I asked why didn’t we go to school and my mother told me that school was not for poor people, only the rich. The rich have money, and without money no one can go to school. I accepted what my mother told me as the truth.

I began working with my mother cleaning houses, and two years ago I became engaged. One day my fiancée asked me why I didn’t ever go to school. I told him it was because school is not for poor people. My fiancée told me that school is for everyone. It’s for boys and girls to get knowledge. I thought it was too late for my brothers and sisters and I to go, but my fiancée helped us. He knew about an AIL center and spoke with my mother to get permission my sisters and I to attend glasses.

We went to the center and joined the literacy and sewing classes. We learned so many new things. In literacy class we learned to read and write. In sewing we learned cutting and sewing. Because of our classes, we are now able to solve our many problems.

I got married, and I am very happy with my in-laws. My sisters attend courses and the center, and now they sew clothing for money so my mother does not have to work cleaning homes. I am so thankful to AIL for all of the positive changes their classes have brought to my family’s life. We always pray for AIL and for Dr. Sakena Yacoobi. 

The Afghan Institute of Learning Peshawar Office continues to offer classes at two, separate Learning Centers located within the confines of an Afghan Refugee Camp.  In addition, they support three different schools in the area that serve Afghan Refugees.  The numbers of students in the first quarter remained steady, with more than 500 students attending the Learning Centers and nearly 1600 attending the schools.

 In March, a 20-day Technique Seminar was held for 39 newer teachers from these Centers and Schools.  In addition, three mini workshops were held at each school concerning the subjects of lesson plans, involving students and solving student’s problems.  The teachers at the Centers are monitored each month and advised if anything in their performance needs to be addressed.

Please remember that Wednesday, June 13th (beginning at 12:01 AM EST) is a Bonus Day through Global Giving.  Donations received that day will be provided a matching gift of 30, 40 or 50 percent.

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!

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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