Thank you for your support of Sahar Education! The communities of northern Afghanistan’s Balkh Province are better prepared to respond to COVID-19 because of your generosity.
Before the pandemic began, 52% of Afghanistan's population was living in poverty and 45% was food insecure according to the Afghan Government. COVID-19 brought high levels of unemployment to the country, coupled with an already weak healthcare system and the inaccessibility of health services to rural communities. Afghanistan's Ministry of Education closed all schools in March and experts predict the long-term negative impact on the education of many children, especially young girls. After six months of school closures, many girls will have difficulty returning to school because of the financial situations of their families. With a lack of income because of the pandemic, families may send young girls to work or choose to marry them off early to support their economic situation.
Sahar has responded to COVID-19 in a variety of ways. First, the teachers in our Early Marriage Prevention Program worked from home while continuing to keep in touch with our students through WhatsApp groups. Through these groups, EMPP teachers posted their lectures online, gave assignments, and spoke with students. Virtual lessons have been a great mechanism for students to keep learning, cope with stress through yoga and meditation lessons, and stay informed about how to stay healthy in response to COVID-19. Sahar also distributed booklets to households in the community to educate families about best practices for preventative health. These booklets were in local languages, including Dari and Pashto, and had picture illustrations to accommodate high levels of illiteracy. Also, we distributed care packages with face masks, hand sanitizer, and soap to local families. To support the community, the contents of the care packages were sourced from local female-owned businesses.
The Ministry of Education reopened schools on August 24, 2020, which means Sahar will be working with local communities to help get girls back in school while keeping their health and safety a priority. Sahar’s work and your support of our programs are even more critical to the communities we serve in the light of the challenging circumstances of COVID-19. Together, we will continue:
educating over 25,000 girls in Sahar-built schools each year
teaching digital literacy to over 4,000 girls in our computer centers
training teachers as part of our Teacher Training Center (from which 160 women have already graduated)
accompanying men in gender allyship through our Men as Partners in Change program
building a boarding school for 265 rural girls to continue their education
providing soap, face masks, hand sanitizer, and other COVID-19 necessities to communities in need
We could not respond to COVID-19 in the communities of Mazar-i-Sharif without you. Thank you for your support and for making a difference in the lives of Afghan girls.
Thank you for supporting the Dawlat-Abad Teacher Training Center (TTC), the only center that provides female high school graduates a career in the rural areas where Sahar worksk. Girls who attend this center have higher chances of attending two more years in Mazar-e-Sharif to take their career building to a higher level. TTC graduates have become local school teachers,encouraging other girls to attend school, contributing to a safer educational experience, empowering females economically, and contributing to female activism at a local level. Some TTC graduates have opened home schools for older illiterate women and have helped girls who are left behind from school to get back into the classroom.
Unfortunately, all educational institutes, including the Sahar supported TTC, are closed by the Ministry of Education due to Coronavirus pandemic. Despite all economic activities on halt due to Coronavirus, we have continued to support the communities we have served for nearly 20 years. For many of the families we work with, the main source of income is through day laborers. Without daily economic activities, the pandemic has impacted them the most. Sahar is helping these communities by providing food, PPEs, and soap, keeping our staff employed, focusing on capacity development and training of staff from home, and providing self-care for the staff and students through phone.
Sahar’s TTC previously had teachers who commuted daily from Mazar-e-Sharif(suburb) to Dowlat-Abad(rural), making a daily 45 minutes commute. In an attempt to enhance the program and use local talent, Sahar is hiring new graduates from Balkh University Information Technology Program to teach in the TTC. The new hires are from Dawlat-Abad, where our TTC is located and thus do not commute. This lowers the risk of Covid-19 for our staff and security issues of travel, and makes them more accessible to their students..
The Sahar team appreciates your contribution and help during these hard times and hopes for your further support during the Coronavirus pandemic. Together, we are stronger!
May 27, 2020
Thank you for your support!
By Ginna Brelsford - Executive Director
Thank you for your support of Sahar Education! Because of your generosity, girls in Balkh province, Northern Afghanistan, have the opportunity to continue their education! When you support Sahar, you ensure projects like our Early Marriage Prevention Program continue.
Even before the pandemic life for girls in Afghanistan remains difficult. Only 24% of female students are literate compared to 52% of males and girls are more likely to be out of school than boys in the country. Harmful cultural traditions, gender inequality, limited awareness of rights, and weak law enforcement contribute to early marriage practices that contribute to the staggering reality that 57% of Afghan girls are still married before the legal age of 16. As the COVID-19 Pandemic rages in Afghanistan, the liklihood for child marriage increases due to increased poverty and reduced access to reproductive care, among other contributors. The goal of our Early Marriage Prevention Program is to keep girls out of early marriage and in school. This continues to be our goal, despite the obstacles.
To date, over 1,000 girls have graduated from our program, a program taught, lead, and created by Afghan women, for Afghan women. As we step into our fourth year of the Early Marriage Prevention program, support is still needed. Girls at the schools we work in want and demand the skills and lessons the program offers.
Plus, your support goes even further than preventing early marriage and supports more amazing Sahar projects! Thanks to you:
Over 25,000 girls are educated in Sahar-built schools each year
4,057 girls have been trained in our computer centers to date
832 women have been trained in our teacher training center
Hear what Farima Shamsi, an 10th grade graduate of the program, has to say about the impact the program had on her:
“Sahar's Early Marrieage Prevention Program (EMPP) has been very helpful for me and girls my age. [From EMPP] I learned self confidence. My favorite session was mental Health sessions, because my self-esteem was particularly low. It was very useful for me because... I was able to recognize signs [of depression] and overcome of them. This program has brought changes not only to my life but also to the lives of people around me... I live in a society that is very traditional and practices patriarchy. Nowhere in the Qura'an does it say that women do not have rights to education. So why then do men stop women’s education? And why women’s education is considered a social stigma? This is all patriarchy.”
We couldn’t do it without you. Thank YOU for making a difference in the lives of Afghans girls today!