Help Afghan Boys Trade Guns for Books

by Afghan Institute of Learning

Thank you for all you have contributed towards AIL’s goal of educating the people of Afghanistan. While the conditions in Afghanistan are still challenging, AIL is seeing positive changes in the lives of those Afghans that it works with. 

While AIL’s primary mission is to educate women and children, AIL would never turn away any Afghan seeking to become educated. Through September of 2012 AIL has helped to educate 3,716 young men and boys in it’s programs ranging from pre-school, to literacy, to computers and more. 

AIL would like to share the remarks of one young man who has been attending classes in one of AIL’s centers for a year. Ahmad is a 22 year old who thanked AIL for the school, and said he prays for Dr. Yacoobi, AIL’s Executive Director. He continues, “AIL has changed my live positively. I started studying English and computers in the center last year. Before I attended classes, I didn’t even know how to turn on or off a computer, but now I have learned well. In fact, I’ve learned to use seven programs on the computer. In addition, I’ve learned to speak and write English well. After I graduated form the course, I took an entrance exam for a trading company in my town. I got the job, and my salary is excellent. I support my family, my mother and my father with the money I receive. After seeing what I have done, my cousin is interested in learning computers and English as well. I owe all my successes to AIL.” 

Ahmed’s remarks area great example of what AIL is seeking to do in Afghanistan: move the country from poverty and violence, to one of peace and prosperity. AIL’s Executive Director Dr. Sakena Yacoobi believes that this will be accomplished by educating Afghan’s just like Ahmed and giving them a path to a better life. And as his remarks highlight, when Ahmed’s cousin saw that positive change that occurred in Ahmed’s life after taking classes, he then showed an interest in education. AIL believes it’s mission is to spread education across Afghanistan in just this manner, and stories like Ahmed’s show that AIL is reaching this goal. 

Don’t forget!  The holidays are a great time to share your passion for AIL and the great work that they do! GlobalGiving offers gift certificates which can be used to donate to AIL’s projects. Also, beginning December 1st, the initial donation made by recurring donors will be matched 100% by GlobalGiving. There is only $25,000 available in matching funds, so help AIL take advantage of this opportunity early!

We would like to share with you a success story from one of our rural Women’s Learning Centers (WLC) in Herat province. This WLC is located in a village that does not have a school. This WLC began after the village came to AIL and asked for a center to be established in a building that the village would provide. AIL agreed, and was surprised when a large number of boys began attending classes at the center. There are now approximately 140 boys (of 440 students) attending a variety of courses at the center including six different levels of literacy, computers, English, Arabic and Pashto. At the end of each year, the students take the government-approved test, and are certified as having passed each grade level. The first students to take classes at the center are considered to be in the sixth grade. The WLC is now looking to become a certified school. Without this center, and without your help, these 140 boys would not have an opportunity to receive an education. Thank you for supporting our efforts and helping to provide this village with a place to educate its young men. 

Imagine our delight when we read that one of AIL’s Learning Centers in a very unsecured area near Kabul had more than doubled their enrollment of students from one month’s report to the next.  Imagine our absolute surprise to learn that the additional students were all boys!  Immediately we asked questions of the AIL Kabul Office.  They reported that a local businessman purchased computers and a solar powered device that provides electricity to the center in order to expand the programs there.  The Center hired two additional teachers and is offering English and Computer courses for young men.  Immediately, 58 males enrolled in these courses.  The Center intends to expand this training to females once the security situation is more controlled.

Please remember that Wednesday, June 13th (beginning at 12:01 AM EST) is a Bonus Day through Global Giving.  Donations received that day will be provided a matching gift of 30, 40 or 50 percent.

Since 1995, the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) has been helping Afghans lift themselves above the devastation of war by providing education, training, health care, and health education.  AIL’s approach is to interlink health and education programs, like building blocks that together form a whole structure.  While delivering these basic services AIL has also been able to promote critical thinking skills and model and teach human rights, women’s rights, peace, democracy, and leadership. With new skills and information, Afghans are becoming empowered and hopeful. Through your financial support, you have been a part of these seeds of systemic change.

 Through the natural progression that exists when people begin to think for themselves, AIL often receives requests from Afghans who want to find ways to work together to promote love, understanding, and forgiveness to their people in order to return to a peaceful way of life; the way of their country’s history.  Supported by Fetzer Institute,  AIL is responding to these requests by holding an International Conference on Love and Forgiveness this Spring that will be shared throughout the country and internationally via film.  This conference will focus on the study of Afghan poets and musicians, particularly the work of Mawlana (Rumi).  Participating in the conference will be poets, writers, Sufis and government representatives from all parts of Afghanistan and the world.

Joining the Conference, in person, or via film or writings, are:

  • Poet Coleman Barks; known as the pre-eminent translator of Rumi, the great 13th century poet and teacher.  Mr. Barks’ writings and translations have filled 15 books that are more popular than other renderings of these ancient words.  They make Rumi’s raptures accessible to the world beyond their creation.
  • Stephen Olsson, President of CEM Productions, has produced and directed documentary films, television series and feature news reports throughout the world for US and European broadcasters.  He also produced and directed: Afghanistan: The Fight For A Way of Life, which was broadcast throughout the world and cited by The New York Times as one of the best documentary films of the year.
  • Divine Mother Audrey Kitagawa, a former attorney, practiced in Honolulu for twenty years, and became the spiritual leader of The Light of Awareness International Spiritual Family, a worldwide community based in Hawaii. Divine Mother Audrey is a prolific writer on matters of spirituality and multiculturalism and serves on many global, spiritual and UN advisory boards, including as Advisor to the World Federation of United Nations Associations.

 AIL invites you to join Afghans in thought and through your own study of music and poetry that brings us all closer to the peaceful world we endeavor to achieve.

During 2011, 4,477 boys attended classes at AIL’s Learning Centers in Kabul and Herat.  One of those students, named Mohammad Shafee is 10 years old and has been studying for one year at an AIL Learning Center.  His father is deceased, but his mother and his brothers support his efforts to receive an education.  Shafee says, “I am thankful for Dr. Yacoobi and the teachers at my center for helping me to learn literacy.  I wish them all a long life full of success.  I will continue my studies and I will help my people in the future.”

Please keep in mind that Wednesday, March 14, 2012 is Bonus Day through GlobalGiving.  Donations up to $1,000.00 will be provided with a 30% match.  The bonus allotment is $50,000.00 and the period runs from 12:01 AM EST until the funds are exhausted.  So, if you would like your donation to go a little further with the help of Global Giving, give early on March 14th.  Thank you!

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Organization Information

Afghan Institute of Learning

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