Learning Centers for Rural Afghan Women in Herat

by Afghan Institute of Learning
Photos from Election Song Video
Photos from Election Song Video
Lets put our hands together, lets 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 hand

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!


Young Students in a Learning Center
Young Students in a Learning Center

Hi everyone! The Afghan Institute of Learning is off to a great start this year. They now have 19 Learning Centers open and providing education in Herat, up from 17 this time last year. In order to keep up with the influx of new students attending these centers, teachers in the Herat Learning centers now number in the hundreds. Thanks to your support, AIL educated 13,000 students in Herat in 2013, nearly 10,000 of those students were women and girls. Herat Learning centers are experiencing healthy growth, and many communities are requesting learning centers of their own. As more numbers come in for 2014, we will be able to provide you with an even clearer picture of just what kind of impact you are making on the lives in women in Herat.

In December, one of AIL’s centers saw 22 women graduate from that center’s tailoring courses. Many of these women are in the process of starting their own businesses so they can make clothes to sell at their local market. They were very appreciative to AIL and supporters like you for giving them the chance to not only become independent, but also to be able to provide for their families.

Four students in another center took and passed the entrance exam to go to the University in Herat with flying colors. One of the girls who passed had this to say about her success:

“I have never imagined I could be able to read and write, but AIL managed to convince me to believe in my ability. Today I am a student of a university, which was beyond my expectations. I am going to change my life and the life of everyone in the community, the same as Professor Sakena Yacoobi does.  I feel myself in different world, full of energy and abilities that were given to me by AIL. I owe all my success to AIL.”

We would like to thank you again for your generous support of AIL’s programs. Without supporters like you, we couldn’t have accomplished what we have or what we plan to do in the future. Thank you!!

Students in a Learning Center
Students in a Learning Center

All of us at the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) and Creating Hope International (CHI) want you thank you for your support this year and wish you and your families a very happy holiday season!

We have made a lot of progress this year. We recently opened 3 new learning centers near Herat for women and children who live too far away to go to our centers in Herat City. We have also opened a new center for orphaned street children to receive education and health care.

One of the literacy class students, who attends a center in rural Herat told us:

Four months ago when I was walking to the center, I felt that the distance between home and class was so far, but now it is so near. I found out why it is so, because four months ago I was unable to read the signboards on the sides of the streets, but now I am able to do so. It is very interesting for me. I am very keen to read every sign on the way to school. It makes me so happy and proud of myself.”

We thank you all for your generous support! Please take some time to check out our annual newsletter attached to this report. 

Thank you!
Thank you!

Dear GlobalGiving Donors,

Thank you so much for supporting the Afghan Institute of Learning’s (AIL) various projects on GlobalGiving. Over the years, the Global Giving donors have become invaluable to AIL. Through your generous support, AIL has been able to provide Afghans with education, health care, training and more.

It is your continued support that is now allowing AIL to evolve along with the young people of Afghanistan. We’d like to share with you the story of how one young woman’s life has been changed thanks to one of AIL’s programs:

I am a 19-year-old woman with two children. I had always wanted to go to school and learn to read, but there was not a school close to my home. It was not safe for me to try and travel to another village to go to school, but I always told myself that if I could go to school, I would be able to get a job and reach my goals.

It was painful to me when my brother learned to read and write, but I couldn’t. One day I watched some women and children who were going somewhere. When I saw that one of them was a woman who had an 8-year-old girl with her, I stopped her and said “Excuse me. Where are you going?” She answered, “A learning center has been established for illiterate women and their children recently. I am going to register myself and my children.”

When I heard this, I was so happy and I said to her, “Please wait a minute. I want to go with you and start to take classes too.” I joined them on their way to the learning center. When we arrived, I was so excited because I saw a lot of women there who had been learning.

Now, I can read and write and I can say proudly that I am literate. I have also learned to be healthy and to be a leader. I am reaching out and touching my wishes and goals. I thank AIL for this opportunity to reach my goals.

Thank you for the support that you give to AIL. We are so grateful to all of our supporters for their continued support of our projects on GlobalGiving. Thank you!

Women Sewing in an AIL Class
Women Sewing in an AIL Class

The Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) and Creating Hope International (CHI) thank our donors for their support of our learning centers in Herat. In the last six months, our 17 learning centers brought education to almost 9,000 Afghans, 6,000 of which were women. Through our educational workshops in Herat, we trained 643 more women in topics such as reproductive health, human rights, democracy, and leadership. AIL is making large strides in the progress and education of women and your donations are making it possible.

Aside from traditional educational courses such as literacy, Arabic, English, math and science, we offer skill-based courses in computers, tailoring, and weaving for women so that they can take these acquired skills and earn a living for their families. An illustrative example of this is the woman Afsana. Housebound and not allowed to go to school by her family, members of the community talked to her family and convinced them to allow her to go to a learning center in Sufi Abad, near Herat.

"My name is Afsana. I was living in Shindand district about 200km away from heart city. My husband is addicted. My family didn't let me study. When I saw people read and write and they could use computers I thought I went back to 100 years ago so I came here to change my life."

AIL registered her for classes and after she became literate, she was soon studying English and computer technology. In one year, she went from an illiterate housewife to working as an office assistant for a large company, due to her newfound computer skills. Afsana is one of many women whose lives have been completely changed by the education AIL provides through our learning centers.

We have a big year planned ahead and we hope to open more centers in the Herat region to better serve those who have the least access to education. We are just starting up a new set of mobile literacy workshops and classes for the Herat region in particular. Soon, more women and children from Herat will learn how to read using mobile phones as a learning tool. Again, we want to thank you all for your support of our programs!

Class in an AIL Learning Center
Class in an AIL Learning Center
Class in an AIL Learning Center
Class in an AIL Learning Center

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Organization Information

Afghan Institute of Learning

Location: Dearborn, Michigan - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.afghaninstituteoflearning.org
Project Leader:
Sakena Yacoobi
Dearborn, Michigan United States
$49,642 raised of $60,000 goal
1,305 donations
$10,358 to go
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