Fast-Tracking Education for Afghan Women and Girls

by Afghan Institute of Learning
An AIL Teacher and an Elderly Student
An AIL Teacher and an Elderly Student

Dear Friends,

The Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) Learning Centers are a highly trusted part of the communities where they exist. The manager of one of the centers recently shared a story that exemplifies the trust that people have in AIL, and we’d like to share that story with you.

Fariba’s husband is working abroad while Fariba stays in Afghanistan with their three daughters. Fariba’s husband wrote her a letter telling her about his health and his daily life in the foreign country, but she was unable to read the letter. She took it to a neighbor, but the neighbor was also illiterate. The neighbor suggested that they take the letter to the AIL Learning Center where they would be able to find someone who could read it for them. As soon as they arrived, they found many women who would be able to read the letter for Fariba. She was thankful to these women, and so happy to hear that her husband was safe and healthy.

The woman who read the letter for her suggested that Fariba begin taking literacy classes so that she could read future letters from her husband, and even write letters of her own. Fariba took their advice, and has now been taking classes for eight months. She said “I recently wrote a letter to my husband telling him about our family’s health. This is such a big step for me, and he was very happy to have a letter written by me.”

Each year AIL’s Learning Centers educate thousands of women, just like Fariba. In 2014, AIL’s Learning Centers educated 16,490 women and girls. Thank you for all of your support. We look forward to updating you on the exciting things that AIL has planned for 2015!

AIL Sewing Students
AIL Sewing Students

Dear Friends,

Thank you for supporting the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL)! This year has been fantastic for AIL's Learning Centers (LCs), with nearly 17,000 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. 

Dr. Sakena Yacoobi with young female students
Dr. Sakena Yacoobi with young female students

The Safer World Fund has selected our project to support through a 50% match on all donations made while funds last! Your donation of $10 becomes $15, or $50 becomes $75.

 Since you have supported our project in the past, you know that the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) programs seeks to help Afghans reach their full potential. Recently, Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, founder and CEO of AIL, said that she believes that in order for people to reach their full potential they need to be educated, healthy, safe and have a stable economy.  When people do not feel safe, they cannot leave their houses. This means they cannot get an education or work, and when this happens, the whole economy suffers. Also, when a person is malnourished, they cannot learn or work.

 AIL is helping to address all four of these issues through it’s programs. AIL offers Afghans a safe place to come and learn by working closely with the communities where its programs exist. These programs offer education, including health education and resources on how to live a healthy life, which lead to people having the skills they need to be employed. People who are employed contribute to the economy and the security of a community. AIL’s holistic programs address all of the needs of those that they work with in a culturally sensitive manner, and in the end the communities are better educated, healthier, more economically stable and ultimately safer.

 We thank you for your past contributions to our efforts to educate Afghan women. As the situation continues to change in Afghanistan, your support has become even more important. We hope that you will rise to the challenge and help us take advantage of this matching opportunity! 

Women in an AIL Computer Class
Women in an AIL Computer Class

Thank you so much for your support of the Afghan Institute of Learning’s (AIL) efforts to provide a fast-tracked education to Afghan women and girls. In the first 6 month of 2014, your support helped AIL provide education to 9,456 women and girls in our Learning Centers and schools! Classes taught include Arabic, English, literacy, sewing, math, computers, physics, chemistry, carpet weaving, cosmetology, embroidery, and painting. AIL also offers pre-school classes to young children to prepare them for school. 

Every day your support is allowing AIL to make a huge impact on the lives of the women and girls who come to our learning centers. Every student is unique, and skills that students have before starting classes vary greatly, as do the goals of each woman. Some come to the center to learn to read, write or sew. We also see students from the local schools coming to take classes to learn about things that are not taught at their schools. AIL’s fast track classes are able to take all of these varied students and give each the individualized instruction that they need.

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.”

Another wonderful success story came from Farima, a woman who decided that she no longer wanted to be illiterate. She came to AIL’s literacy classes, and after 6 months was able to read and write. Soon, a relative hired her to work in their supermarket. She is so pleased to be able to help support her family. Farima says “AIL has changed my life. Before attending the AIL literacy class, I stayed home every day and wasted my time. I lost so many chances in my life because I was not educated, but now because I learned to read and write I have a job. Now, I can read, write and communicate with all sorts of people.”


Your support allows AIL to offer an education to Afghan women and girls just like Sima and Farima. Thank you so much!

Stills from the Music Video
Stills from the Music Video

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. 

(Chorus Song)

Let’s put our hands together, let’s get together.

Our hands hold our votes and our votes hold our future.


With one vote, we can be our sultan, our voice

For a better choice for a better leader


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 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


(Chorus Song)

Our choice is the remedy

Our choice is for the day of rendezvous

Who we want will be crowned sultan


My fellow citizen, stride, my fellow citizen!


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


My fellow citizen, stride, my fellow citizen!


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Organization Information

Afghan Institute of Learning

Location: Dearborn, Michigan - USA
Project Leader:
Sakena Yacoobi
Founder & CEO
Dearborn, Michigan United States
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