Thank you for supporting AIL Learning Centers (LCs) in Herat in 2014! This year has been fantastic for the LCs, with nearly 12,000 women and girls coming through the doors of AIL’s centers for classes in subjects such as, English, math, science, Arabic, tailoring, crochet, computers and more. This summer and fall were a tumultuous time in Afghanistan, but we are happy to say that despite the instability, all of the LCs remain open. In addition, the AIL office in Herat has begun supporting three new Learning Centers.
Our staff recently spoke with a 24 year-old woman named Zahra who is taking classes at one LC in Herat Province. Zahra came to the center to enroll her children in classes and saw that there were many women her age having lessons. She spoke with the women who told her that the center offered great classes for women. Her husband was against the idea at first, but she enrolled anyway. They had many disagreements about her taking lessons, but Zahra’s husband was soon convinced that the classes were a good idea after the young woman learned to sew and was able to start a small businesses sewing clothing for other families.
Zahra said “I am now so happy that I have a skill. My husband is very happy as well. He has seen that I have learned this skill in a sound, safe and good educational environment. The class has been helpful in other ways too. I have made friends, and learned so much about how to keep my children healthy. I am so thankful to AIL for offering me the opportunity to support myself and my family and changing my life for the better.”
Thank you for supporting our program, and women just like Zahra who are looking for a way to improve their lives. We have attached our year end newsletter to this report and hope you will take a few minutes to read it.
Thank you so much for supporting our project to provide an education to the women in Herat Province! As the situation in Afghanistan continues to change, your support becomes more important than ever. With your help, we will be able to continue offering a high quality education to the women who rely on us. During the first 6 months of 2014, the 21 Learning Centers overseen by the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) office in Herat, Afghanistan were able to provide an education to 5,983 women!
The AIL Learning Centers offer a variety of classes, from literacy and math, to sewing and embroidery, English and Arabic, cosmetology and even computers! Recently classes of computer students were promoted to the next level in their studies. At the promotion ceremony, a young woman named Sima was thrilled to share that because of her computer skills, a construction company had hired her! Her husband is a day laborer, and is not able to earn enough to support his family. Now, thanks to the AIL computer class, she is able to work and earn an income. Sima realizes that she might face challenges being a woman working outside of the home, but feels that she is ready to face them. She said, “I know that I might face problems because I am a woman, and there are some who feel that a woman shouldn’t work outside the home, but I want to work and will ignore whatever is said about me. I thank AIL for giving me this chance to change my life.”
Every day, your support is helping AIL to education women just like Sima. Women who want to learn a skill, so that they can change their lives. We thank you so much for seeing the value in our project, and hope that you will continue to help the women of Herat, Afghanistan who seek to become educated. Thank you.
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.
Hi everyone! The Afghan Institute of Learning is off to a great start this year. They now have 19 Learning Centers open and providing education in Herat, up from 17 this time last year. In order to keep up with the influx of new students attending these centers, teachers in the Herat Learning centers now number in the hundreds. Thanks to your support, AIL educated 13,000 students in Herat in 2013, nearly 10,000 of those students were women and girls. Herat Learning centers are experiencing healthy growth, and many communities are requesting learning centers of their own. As more numbers come in for 2014, we will be able to provide you with an even clearer picture of just what kind of impact you are making on the lives in women in Herat.
In December, one of AIL’s centers saw 22 women graduate from that center’s tailoring courses. Many of these women are in the process of starting their own businesses so they can make clothes to sell at their local market. They were very appreciative to AIL and supporters like you for giving them the chance to not only become independent, but also to be able to provide for their families.
Four students in another center took and passed the entrance exam to go to the University in Herat with flying colors. One of the girls who passed had this to say about her success:
“I have never imagined I could be able to read and write, but AIL managed to convince me to believe in my ability. Today I am a student of a university, which was beyond my expectations. I am going to change my life and the life of everyone in the community, the same as Professor Sakena Yacoobi does. I feel myself in different world, full of energy and abilities that were given to me by AIL. I owe all my success to AIL.”
We would like to thank you again for your generous support of AIL’s programs. Without supporters like you, we couldn’t have accomplished what we have or what we plan to do in the future. Thank you!!
All of us at the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) and Creating Hope International (CHI) want you thank you for your support this year and wish you and your families a very happy holiday season!
We have made a lot of progress this year. We recently opened 3 new learning centers near Herat for women and children who live too far away to go to our centers in Herat City. We have also opened a new center for orphaned street children to receive education and health care.
One of the literacy class students, who attends a center in rural Herat told us:
Four months ago when I was walking to the center, I felt that the distance between home and class was so far, but now it is so near. I found out why it is so, because four months ago I was unable to read the signboards on the sides of the streets, but now I am able to do so. It is very interesting for me. I am very keen to read every sign on the way to school. It makes me so happy and proud of myself.”
We thank you all for your generous support! Please take some time to check out our annual newsletter attached to this report.
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