Tailoring: A Small-Business Skill for Afghan Women

by Afghan Institute of Learning

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.

We love to see attitudes changing in Afghanistan.  As you are likely aware, under the rule of the Taliban, women and girls were not permitted to attend school.  It has been quite an adjustment for some Afghan men to accept the idea of an educated or skilled woman.  We received these comments from Mohammad, the father of one of the Sewing Class students at Nasir Khisraw Learning Center:

“I would like to thank the A.I.L office for its effective support.  My daughter has learned sewing very well.  Now she can skillfully sew her and family members’ cloth.  Through this skill, she has rendered a great contribution to herself and her family as she economically supports her family and is engaged in an efficient occupation.  It is all because of Nasir Khisraw’s teacher’s hard work.  I really appreciate their hard work, and I am also thankful for the A.I.L office who has hired skillful teachers to provide efficient services to the society.”

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 GlobalGiving, give early on March 14th.  Thank you!

During 2011, 1719 women were instructed in sewing through the learning centers of the Afghan Institute of Learning.  That means that 1719 women are better equipped to become independent and/or financially assist their families.  Many of these women open their own businesses, while others sew from their homes and provide clothing for their own families and members of their community for a small fee.  Still others go to work for large businesses that require their skill level.

Thank you to all of you who provided support for these women.  

AIL is continuing to teach women tailoring as a skill that they can learn quickly and immediately improve their circumstances.  As these women graduate from the program, they set up businesses in their own homes sewing clothing for other people in their community.  Sabra* had this to say:

"I am a house wife the same as the other women in Darqara village a part of Enjil district, Herat. I am 28 years old and I am the mother of three children.

Once I heard the neighbors talking about a new established learning center which provides services such as: literacy, Arabic, and sewing for those women who are house wife and uneducated with a very less payment and even they enroll the poor in the course without any payment. I consulted with my husband and shared the issue with him; he told if this center is only for women you can go and learn sewing.

I went to the learning center and based on the information I got from the office knew that this center is only for women and girls. I registered myself in the sewing course and, as a result of my efforts and the teachers’ efforts, I could learn this profession within eight months.

Now in Darqaraa village I am busy with this profession and solve my family and neighbors’ problems. I live in a good economic situation and help my husband with the house expanses. I keep praying for this foundation and the teachers which saved me from joblessness."

Another AIL Project, “Transform Lives of 70,000 Afghan Adolescent Girls” has been chosen to be part of the Girl Effect Challenge, which runs from October 15 through November 15, 2011.  Approximately 60 projects have been included in this challenge.  The top six projects with the highest number of unique donations will become part of the Girl Effect Fund for one year and each is expected to earn an additional $25,000.  Please check out our project #8791, and thank you for your generous support of our programs!

A Story from one student at the Yacoobi Foundation Women’s Learning Center (WLC):

 Farishta, one of the students of Yacoobi Foundation WLC, relates the impact of AIL’s programs on her village and family:  “One year ago I was illiterate like other women of Afghanistan. I was in my house without any fun and studying and I didn’t have any job and was in a poor economic situation. I came to the AIL Yacoobi Foundation center and I learned to be a tailor.  Now I can sew my family’s clothes and the clothes of others in the village.   I earn 2000 Afghanis per month. Now I can buy things for my children. I know that AIL works very effectively.”


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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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