CHI's project partner in Afghanistan, the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL), greatly expanded its Women's Learning Center services to hard-to-reach, under-served rural women and children in Mir Bacha Kot over the last 18 months. CHI and AIL are offering classes like literacy and sewing to women and girls at 3 locations, a home school for girls, a home school for boys, and advanced classes for boys in subjects like Math and Science. In May 2004 alone, over 700 women and children, who do not have access to government schools, were studying in these classes.
One of the students of CHI and AIL's advanced classes in Mir Bacha Kot told about his experiences. He said:
"During the Taliban's regime we migrated to Iran to be safe and I worked to acquire bread for my family. There I used to sell biscuits and chocolates on streets. From morning to night, I was out. Hence, I couldn't study and I remained back from education. After Taliban's regime collapsed and we came back to Afghanistan, I wished to join school but my age didn't allow me which made me so hopeless. One day my father told me, 'I have heard that AIL has opened an Advanced course in our village. You can attend it.' I got very happy and went there to be admitted. There I was registered gladly. Now I can take a promoted test and study in school. My family and I are thankful to AIL for it was AIL who stimulated me and made feel prosperous like other youths who study in high classes."
In order to improve the quality of education in Mir Bacha Kot, CHI and AIL offered teacher training seminars and upgraded the skills of teachers. The seminars were so well-received that a neighboring rural community called Kalikhan asked for training for their teachers too. The teacher training seminars in Mir Bacha Kot and Kalikhan were noteworthy because AIL’s female teacher trainers provided training to the region's male teachers, an unprecedented and rewarding educational experience for these communities and a true model for gender equality in Afghanistan. To date, CHI and AIL have trained 108 teachers in Mir Bacha Kot and Kalikhan through this seminar.
CHI and AIL have also built a permanent health clinic in Mir Bacha Kot. This clinic is the first of its kind in these villages. The clinic treats common diseases, provides minor surgery, and especially focuses on mother/child health. Clinic staff distributes soap, shampoo, and home birthing kits. They provide vaccinations, and even deliver babies. In May of 2004 alone, clinic staff treated 2,459 patients and provided health education on topics like hygiene and disease prevention to 4,918.
The Mir Bacha Kot clinic includes a nutrition center, where clinic staff treats children who have problems from poor nutrition. Staff is also educating mothers about how they can make sure that their children get proper nutrition. Mothers learn lessons like how to take care of a child for good health and growth, how to use food, the benefits of mother’s milk, and how to measure height, weight, and arms.
All of this work in Mir Bacha Kot to bring education and health to the women and children in this community has led to some other important developments. After observing AIL’s method of working, a group of community members have begun their own community organization. They are planning to start a library and sports teams for Mir Bacha Kot children. Additionally, the local government school is now offering classes to girls in the afternoons. This is a tremendous step for Mir Bacha Kot, which has never had a girls school before.