Tailoring: A Small-Business Skill for Afghan Women

by Afghan Institute of Learning
Dr. Sakena Yacoobi receiving her hood at Princeton
Dr. Sakena Yacoobi receiving her hood at Princeton

So many wonderful things have happened for the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) in the last few weeks, and we’re very excited to share a few of them with you. 

First, on Tuesday the Executive Director of AIL, Sakena Yacoobi received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Princeton University. The official citation reads:

With a profound reverence for the well-being of others, this visionary leader devotes her life to the empowerment of poor Afghan women and children. With an unwavering commitment to social justice, against all odds, and often at great personal risk, she built and sustains an institute that makes healthcare and education possible for the most vulnerable. It owes its success in establishing clinics, teaching children, and training educators and caregivers to the deep and lasting ties she has forged with the people she serves and with global communities of care. After decades of work, she is still creating hope, in her home country and throughout the world. 

Additionally, AIL has had two articles posted at The Huffington Post. The first focuses on AIL’s belief that Education Is the Way to a Healthier Country

The second article details AIL’s Mobile Literacy Program, giving details of how adding texting to a traditional literacy curriculum helped to accelerate the pace of learning. 

Finally, tomorrow is a Global Giving Matching Day, and because AIL is a superstar partner, all donations will be matched at 50%! Matching will begin at 9:00 am EST and funds generally run out after just a few hours.To select a project that you might like to donate to, visit AIL’s page on GlobalGiving


Women's Networking Movement

The Afghan Institute of Learning is very excited to have been given the opportunity to blog at Huffington Post! Our first blog about the Women’s Networking Movement taking place in some of AIL’s centers has been posted. The Women’s Networking Movement is taking place in about 30 of AIL’s centers, schools and clinics. The women coming to these centers are sharing thoughts and ideas in ways that have not been possible until recently. 

To learn more about the Women’s Networking Movement, check out our blog at Huffington Post

Creating Hope International, AIL’s partner, has set up a Facebook page where we will be sharing more news, pictures and information about AIL’s programs. Make sure that you ‘Like’ Creating Hope International on Facebook to get all the latest news! 


Women Using New Sewing Machines
Women Using New Sewing Machines

Creating Hope International (CHI) and the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to you all for a fantastic year thus far. AIL Learning Centers provide education and training to Afghans who would otherwise not be able to receive it. Tailoring classes are one of several subjects taught to predominately Afghan women; it is training that is invaluable to them and their families as it allows for them to earn an income and become more independent. Without your support, none of this could have been possible. 

In January of this year, AIL learning centers hosted 46 tailoring classes, providing the instruction to some 976 women of all ages. In addition, with funds raised from another Global Giving project, three of the large centers in Herat received 4 new sewing machines for each center. 

These classes are teaching women a very valuable skill, one that has the potential to allow them to earn an income and help them feed their families. Women who take the tailoring courses are not only making clothing for their families, most are selling their work to the community where they live and work, and some are starting their own businesses, hiring other women to work and earn their own wages. The impact of taking a single course of tailoring from our learning centers has the potential to not only better the quality of life of a single family, but that of an entire community. 

Women Using New Sewing Machines
Women Using New Sewing Machines
Women Using New Sewing Machines
Women Using New Sewing Machines
Women Using New Sewing Machines
Women Using New Sewing Machines
New Sewing Machines on the Tables
New Sewing Machines on the Tables

The Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) and Creating Hope International (CHI) would like to wish you and yours the happiest of holiday seasons.  As you celebrate with those you love, please take a moment to look at CHI’s yearly newsletter, which we’ve attached to this report. As you will see, 2012 has been a transformative year for AIL and CHI. After years of working tirelessly to provide education, training and healthcare to Afghans, we are beginning to see a real change. The minds of those AIL works with are being opened to the possibility of a peaceful Afghan society.

AIL is in the process of finalizing a 5 year funding plan, which will be put into place beginning in 2013. We are looking forward to sharing the details of this plan with you soon, and hope that you will find it in your heart to give generously to help us reach our goal. The people of Afghanistan are making great strides, but our work is not done yet. Instead of backing down, we need to push ahead and continue to give Afghans the tools they need to create a more peaceful country. We are hoping that we can count on you to help continue our work. 

The women are beginning to see that through education they can have a better life, and are insisting on educating their children. They are taking charge of their health, and we are seeing more and more women requesting workshops on pre-natal issues as well as reproductive health. AIL is encouraged to see so many Afghan women looking forward to a brighter future and is planning to be there to help the women lead the way to the Afghanistan of their dreams. 


Thank you for your support of AIL’s project. While the situation in Afghanistan continues to prove challenging, with your help AIL is finding ways to continue bringing high quality education to the women of Afghanistan. 

Forty-six sewing and tailoring courses are being taught to 868 students at nineteen centers. During one month, the sewing students at one of AIL’s centers were able to produce 60 women’s dresses, 15 skirts, 107 head coverings, 111 blouses, and various men’s clothing for a total of 873 different items. 

For many of the students, the road to literacy begins with sewing. AIL has found that while many families might not be comfortable with their female relatives studying subjects traditionally taught in schools for fear that they go against the family’s values, they are comfortable allowing the women and girls to take classes in sewing and tailoring. After the girls begin attending classes, the family is able to see that AIL is a trustworthy organization, one that respects Afghan culture while educating students.

My name is Zeba. My parents are very restrictive and thus I couldn’t go to school and get an education. At home I weave rugs with my sisters. I heard about the good work that AIL does, and told my parents of it. They allowed me to join a sewing class at the center. Soon after I joined a literacy class. Now I can sew, read and write. I am so thankful for my teachers who help Afghan women and girls, and for the Afghan Institute of Learning. 

In other cases, the sewing classes provide women with a way to improve their family’s economic situation. The women are able to sew clothing to sell as well as being able to alter clothing for others. This is a great way for women to help provide for their family.

One of AIL’s supervisors recently checked on one of AIL’s sewing classes and said the following: We are very happy with the sewing classes. The teaching has been very good, and now the students can sew very well. Many are able to sew their own clothes. During the past two months, there were two students who could not sew anything, but now they can sew many things. They have become good tailors, and are very thankful to teachers and for their sewing classes. All of the sewing students are very glad that AIL is offering these classes for women; they are very happy they have the chance to learn sewing and other subjects. 

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!


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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

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