Tailoring: A Small-Business Skill for Afghan Women

by Afghan Institute of Learning

Thank you for your generous support of our project. Rather than give you just the numbers of women taking part in our sewing classes, we would like to share two stories of women whose lives have been transformed by our sewing program. The story of this young girl exemplifies the positive effect that the Afghan Institute of Learning’s programs are having on Afghan women.

Latifa began studying sewing in one of AIL’s centers a year ago. She finished the six month course, and decided to come back for more education, taking the sewing class again and also taking a literacy course.  Latifa says that because of AIL’s courses, “I can read and write, and I sew clothes professionally to earn money. I am thankful to AIL for giving me this opportunity.”

In another of our centers, a young woman named Jamila shared a similar story:

“I am so proud because now that I have learned to sew, I can support my family. I went to the bazaar and bought 20 meters of cloth and was able to make nine sets of clothing. I went back to the bazaar and was able to sell the clothing for a 100% profit. I have changed so much since last year. I am now able to work in my community. My sewing skills have also helped my family. I was able use some of my profits to purchase stationary for my sister to use at school, and she was so happy to have it.”

This is the story of a student at the Sar Asia Center in Herat:

I am 22 years old.  Seven years ago, I came to this Center and studied sewing.  I learned how to sew and the cutting of clothes.  Fortunately, I now have a daily income from sewing clothes.  I can earn 10 dollars per day and my family’s expenditures are 7 dollars every day.  I can save three dollars each day.  In one year I can save 1100 dollars.  This is how I am helping my family.  I continue to come to the Center to attend literacy and Arabic classes.  I am now in the fourth level of literacy.  When I started here, my family did not like the idea, but now they respect me and encourage me.  Recently, I enrolled my mother in literacy classes so that she may also learn.

These kinds of stories touch my heart and give me hope for all women in Afghanistan.  The idea that she is saving money for her future makes me smile and shows me that AIL is helping people lead better lives.  I’m including a picture that we recently received from a sewing class at an AIL Learning Center in Kabul.

Please remember that Wednesday, June 13th (beginning at 12:01 AM EST) is a Bonus Day through Global Giving.  Donations received that day will be provided a matching gift of 30, 40 or 50 percent. 

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.  


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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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