Students in class
Thank you for your continued support of our work educating girls in Balkh Province, in Northern Afghanistan. Here’s the story of Hakima, a 9th grade graduate of the Early Marriage Prevention Program:
“I am Hakima; I am a 9th-grade student. I have four sisters and three brothers. My mother is a housewife, and my father is without a job. I love education. I want to be in the army in the future, but my brother and father do not allow me to the be in the military. You cannot be in the military because you are a girl, they say. Participating in this program, I found that a woman can work in any career they love. Our society not only needs male police or army but it is critical for women to be in the police and military. I convinced my family to support me to achieve my goal, and I am sure that one day my family will hear my words to the army to serve my country. Every day I participated in this program with a lot of enthusiasm. We discovered ways to overcome problems that are not taught at school or home. Before participating in this program, I did not know that the underage marriage could cause such a dark future for a girl or that it has adverse outcomes. I did not see this issue before, but now I know. So I don’t want to get married underage, I don’t want my life to be ruined. I just want to continue my education for now and not get married young. I want to have a bright future and serve others as well.”
We work in the most remote areas in Northern parts of Afghanistan, Balkh Province. Our baseline information highlighted that our students prior to joining our Early Marriage Prevention Program (EMPP) did not have adequate knowledge of their legal rights in general, and their specific rights regarding early marriage. Our program addresses both girls’ fundamental rights and provides opportunities as well as the platform to develop self-confidence - to speak up for themselves and peers whenever they face early marriage. The result of this training is a marked shift in empowerment and perceptions about future opportunities. External factors as well as other projects that might have shaped these impacts include: mentoring effects of guest speakers, leadership modeling of classroom teachers, conversations with family members and changing perceptions of possible economic contributions of more educated girls to family circumstances.
We have graduated 720 students through this program and 2018 marks the third year of our program. Based on feedback received from graduates of the program, this year we added a 13th module on mental health to the EMPP. In this module we spark conversation about mental health and provide students with tools that will help them deal with mental health issues, especially depression and trauma. As one of Sahar’s signature programs, EMPP has now gained a significant reputation in the communities that we serve. The positive impact of EMPP has caused many parties to want to be a part of the program, students and schools in particular. In order to better establish a feedback loop for improving the program as well as enhance quantitative and qualitative measurement systems, we are working with the students from the University of Washington Evans School of Public Policy and Governance to develop a Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) model for our EMPP. This model will take into account all the obstacles that we face in the field in Northern Afghanistan. Additionally, we are in process of adding an M&E specialist to our team in Afghanistan to improve our program for the girls we serve.
To date, Sahar has built, repaired, or supplied 25 schools, has impacted over 23,000 girls annually and over 250,000 since our inception. However, the need for more schools and access to education is still growing. Afghanistan's need for education remains daunting with over 40% of their population school aged children. With your help we can continue to provide these opportunities as we aim to make Afghanistan a safer place through education.
Thank you for your ongoing support of this program. The work wouldn't be possible without YOU championing this work.
Students in our computer center courses