Give Afghan Refugees the Gift of Education

by Afghan Institute of Learning

AIL started in the Afghan refugee camps of Pakistan, where Dr. Yacoobi  saw the plight of the people who were dropping behind in education, losing skills and were unhealthy and lacking hope. She founded AIL to address these problems and sees education as the key to a changed future for people.

17 years later AIL is still working, helping refugees and also those back in the homeland. In 2014, AIL has one Learning Center (LC) in Pakistan and supports 3 schools. At the LC there are between 260 and 176 students in any given month (202-123 female). There are 7 classes in Arabic, literacy, English and sewing and 4 teachers. The supported schools have between 850 and 1,437 students as well as a preschool for a dozen children. School restarted in early September following the summer break. AIL staff organized a short technique seminar and a one day workshop on lesson planning, the role of the teacher and teaching different age groups.  Teaching staff were able to update their skills for the new school year. In August, during the summer recess, 40 people attended an in depth teaching technique seminar. All this training is part of AIL’s program philosophy of providing high quality trained teachers and continuing to support them when they are working.

Your support for Afghan refugees is much appreciated. We have included Creating Hope International’s newsletter which contains information on AIL’s work. We hope that you will take a moment to read through it.


AIL has been helping Afghan refugees in Pakistan for 17 years providing education and health care. So far in 2014, 1,699 refugees have benefited from education classes at either the AIL Learning Center or one of 3 AIL schools.

The aim of the classes is to help these people keep up with education so they do not fall too far behind their peer group. Classes are offered in English, Arabic, literacy and sewing. The sewing class gives women a marketable skill they can use to earn money. The preschool class helps the youngest be ready to start school. The class also offers education on health matters and in one month teachers talked about eye care, jaundice and malaria.

AIL provides in depth workshops as part of its comprehensive education program and the Pakistan office provided a Leadership Workshop in April for 33 students and in June for 39 students from the schools. These are 10 day events that provide an opportunity to learn about peace, respect for others, what is leadership, how to be a leader and how to listen to others, empowerment and vision among many other topics. The workshops are interactive so students are able to practice leadership and role play situations so they are more able to use these new concepts in their lives. The session started with students writing out their expectations on paper leaves and placing these on a tree symbolizing growth and the group working on something together.

Students made remarks such as “This is a new thing to me. I learned a lot about leadership, what it is and how to do it. I think all people should go to this workshop.” One of the students said that “Nowadays we and all people every hour and every second face many problems so it’s the duty of mothers not to keep things hidden from children, but to let them know about the area and  environment which they live in. They should tell them about the issues and also let them know what’s happening every day in our world. I am very thankful from AIL staff, especially Dr. Sakena Yacoobi.”

 Your support changes perspectives which changes lives. Thank you.

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!


Students, like Zahra, in a tailoring class
Students, like Zahra, in a tailoring class

Dear Friends, 

Thank you for your support of the Afghan Institute of Learning’s efforts to provide education to Afghan refugees living in Pakistan. During 2013 a total of 1,718 Afghan were educated in AIL learning centers and schools. AIL currently supports a preschool program, one learning center and three schools.

The preschool program provides education for very young students, teaching them the basics they need to succeed when they start school. The schools are providing a high quality education to school age children and the learning center is providing skill and education to older students, mostly women. 

We’d like to share the story of Zahra, a 24 year old refugee attending classes in AIL’s Learning Center. Zahra is one of three children. She and her sister were very eager to attend school, but her father was a very strict man who didn’t want his wife or daughters to leave their home, much less go to school. Despite this, was clear that he did value education because his son was allowed to attend school. 

Going to school was a dream for Zahra and her sister. Her relatives advocated for her to be able to go to school, but he wouldn’t consider it. Every day, Zahra’s desire to go to school grew, she became interested in sewing and began making clothing for dolls. Her father, however, would not be swayed.

In order for her brother to continue with his education, the family moved to an area with a high school. The new neighbors asked why Zahra couldn’t go to school, and having to answer this over and over made her very sad. The neighbors pled the girls case, but it did no good. Their father said the girls were too old to go to school now. 

One of their neighbors was a teacher at a school near the AIL Learning Center. She came to Zahra’s house and told her mother about the Learning Center. She told her that the classes were free, and the girls were not too old to go there. Zahra’s mother spoke with their father and after some time, he gave his permission for them to attend. 

The girls and their mother joined the literacy and sewing classes. They have learned so many different techniques in the sewing classes, and Zahra began selling the clothing she made to her neighbors. 

Zahra was able to complete both the literacy and sewing classes. She continued to work at home to earn money. Soon she got engaged, and she was able to sew herself a beautiful dress to wear at her engagement party. When guests asked about the dress, she was so proud to be able to say that she had made it. After getting married, Zahra moved to Canada with her new husband. 

In Canada, she is making and selling traditional Afghan clothes. She is able to earn money to support both her family and family still in Pakistan. She said “I am very happy to be able to work and earn for my family. This is all because of AIL. I am so thankful to have had this opportunity, and that AIL has opened centers to help women and girls. I always pray for AIL, they changed my life.” 

Again, we’d like to say thank you for your support. Your support is helping to teach women like Zahra skills that help them to live a better life. Thank you. 

Women in a Leadership Workshop
Women in a Leadership Workshop

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for your support of the Afghan Institute of Learning’s schools and learning centers for Afghan refugees in Pakistan. These schools and learning centers are often the only place where the refugees can receive education and training. During the later part of 2013, the AIL staff in Pakistan has been able to offer several leadership workshops to refugees at these schools and learning centers. The workshops have been very well received, as you can see below. 

The Afghan Institute of Learning office in Pakistan offered a leadership workshop to 40 women. After the workshop, one of the participants said, 

I am very thankful for the opportunity to come to this workshop. The information was very useful, and very important for me to learn. All of the participants and trainers were very kind and friendly. We were given the change to talk and tell each other our stories, and I learned a great deal from these stories and from the things the trainers told me. When this workshop began, I was too shy to share my stories, but each day I became more brave and took part in the discussions. I was very happy to be a part of this workshop, and I will share what I have learned with my family.” 

Attached to this report is our Year End Newsletter. WE hope that you will take a few minutes to read through it. 


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Organization Information

Afghan Institute of Learning

Location: Dearborn, Michigan - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Sakena Yacoobi
Dearborn, Michigan United States

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