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
Afghanistan has an unacceptably high risk of maternal death and stillbirth. AIL has developed effective programs to address these issues, including workshops on reproductive health and general health education offerings. These opportunities to learn are always highly popular and the women go away knowing much more than they did before. In 2013, 12,687 women received reproductive health care at AIL clinics, 300 women (including 150 pregnant women) attended Expectant Mother Workshops and 832 attended Reproductive Health Workshops.
The Expectant Mother Workshops show remarkable results in that 100% of women who attend them choose a clinic based birth rather than the cultural norm of home delivery. Women attend for a few hours one afternoon learning about safe pregnancy, safe delivery and newborn care. In 2013, there were no recorded deaths, stillbirths or complications for the attendees who had given birth.
AIL’s Health Workshops (RH) provide information over a few days covering issues in more depth such as: vaccinations, fetus and placenta, pre delivery preparations, normal delivery, post partum bleeding, breast feeding, family planning, child spacing, condoms, specifications of newborns, pre natal and post natal care and problems during pregnancy. Each workshop is tailor made for the community it serves and additional subjects are added as needed such as sanitation, nutrition, and clean water. The majority of attendees are married women but there are also unmarried women, the age range is from late teens to 50 years old. Mini workshops are also offered when needed and are a more condensed workshop experience specially suited to those with limited time available or issues of transport or childcare.
Here is a story form a RH workshop participant:
Fareshta on of the participants said, “Most of the people who live in our village are uneducated. They suffer many health problems. The women don’t know about reproductive health and many of them lose their lives at the time of delivery. The mothers’ mortality level is very high there. One woman died at the time of birth because her family didn’t let any doctor check her. She and her baby both died. It is very painful for me when I think about them.”
We are most grateful for your interest in and your support of this project. Reaching women of child bearing age with accurate information about pregnancy and child birth is truly a life saving effort.
Maternal/child health is one of AIL’s major areas of concern in the health field. Women face an unacceptably high risk of death in childbirth due to lack of access to basic health care and trained health care providers. Since the start of 2013, 10,836 women received reproductive health care at AIL clinics, 250 women (including 126 pregnant women) attended Expectant Mother Workshops and 515 attended Reproductive Health Workshops.
The Expectant Mother Workshops, now in a third full year of operation, continue to yield remarkable results in that 100% of women who attend them choose a clinic based birth rather than the cultural norm of home delivery. AIL has continued with its Reproductive Health Workshops (RH) in addition to continuing health education offered at clinics and through the Community Health Worker program. Mini workshops are also offered when needed and are a more condensed workshop experience specially suited to those with limited time available or issues of transport.
Attached to this report is our year end newsletter. We hope you will take a few minutes to look it over. Thank you.
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!
As you know, if you have been receiving these reports for a while, Afghanistan has the highest rate of infant mortality in the world, with nearly 12% of babies born perishing before their first birthday. Additionally, the maternal mortality rate in Afghanistan is among the highest in the world. The Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) believes that one of the best ways to improve the health of babies and mothers is through education, and AIL has developed several programs to help provide women with the information they need to have healthier pregnancies, births and children.
One of the first health workshops developed by AIL was the Reproductive Health workshop. This workshop covers topics such as problems that can occur during pregnancy, the process of delivering a child, pre and post-natal care, caring for an infant, breastfeeding, family planning, vaccination, nutrition for mothers and children, and more. During the first 6 months of 2013, AIL has held three Reproductive Health workshops for 100 women. Some of these women were teachers who said that, where appropriate, they plan to pass this information on to their students, furthering AIL’s message.
Participants in a recent Reproductive Health Workshops said:
"This workshop has helped me learn how to plan my family. Before this workshop I didn’t know anything about family planning and I was suffering. Now, I have learned a lot of things that I needed to know. I am happy that I can plan my family now. I wish that all women could attend these workshops.
I know women who don’t know much about this subject. I want all women and girls who would like to one day have a family to participate in these workshops. I would like to share everything that I learned in this workshop with all of the women around me to who need to know these things."
After years of offering Reproductive Health workshops to women, AIL decided to offer a more intensive workshop to pregnant women and their birth helpers. The Expectant Mother’s workshop covers pre and post-natal care, care of an infant, information about safe delivery, breastfeeding, nutrition, and more. At the end of each workshop, the mothers are given a layette set, which we’ve described in prior reports. During the two years that this program has been offered nearly all of the women have chosen to give birth in a hospital, as opposed to the traditional, but dangerous practice of giving birth at home. All of the participants of the program have survived childbirth, and there has been only one stillbirth. During the first six months of 2013, AIL has been able to offer this workshop six times to a total of 122 women.
Pregnancy and childbirth can be a dangerous time for a woman in Afghanistan, but AIL programs are proving that it doesn’t have to be that way. When Afghan women are educated about their health and options available to them, they will make healthier choices, which lead to healthier babies and families. Thank you for supporting AIL’s continuing efforts to make pregnancy, childbirth and infancy safer for Afghan women and babies!
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