Afghans Learn Leadership for the 21st Century

by Afghan Institute of Learning

Thank you for your support. Your desire to make a difference in this world has made a difference, and we are so thankful that Afghan people have had their lives changed with your help.

We wanted to share with you a very special opportunity to give more than 100% from November 10 through December 1st. Please share this with those you know who care. During this time, we are privileged to receive additional matching funds from your donation through Global Giving of at least 30%. The need is still great. Afghanistan struggles to become a country of strength and stability.

AIL often has additional ‘mini’ workshops to address a specific topic. After such a workshop that focused on leadership and peace and how to implement peace, two of the participants took their knowledge a step further: Kubra went and created a leadership workshop where more than 75 people attended. Mohammad created a foundation to help support 30 families. He receives money from the organization and helps the families with basic needs and food. Mohammad then talked with donors to assist in the vision of to creating a road to Shakadara.

There's a new focus on women worldwide. The New York Times magazine dedicated their entire issue one week in August on women in the developing world. Of particular focus was a newly launched book written by the well-known Pulitzer winning couple Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl DuWunn titled: "Half The Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide". The press focus on this timely book is significant- from reviews in Harvard and People magazine, to upcoming segments on shows like "The Today Show", the time has come for women and their issues worldwide to be in the spotlight.

Sakena Yacoobi and her organization the Afghan Institute of Learning is one of the topics in Chapter Nine of the book. Dr. Yacoobi grew up in Herat, Afghanistan and then came to the United States to study at the University of the Pacific and Loma Linda University. Concerned about the condition of her people back in Afghanistan, Sakena returned to Pakistan to work in Afghan refugee camps and later went to Afghanistan. Although the Taliban forbade girls from getting an education in Afghanistan, Sakena was instrumental in establishing a string of secret girls schools with community support.

Today, the Afghan Institute of Learning has multiple education programs in Pakistan and in seven provinces of Afghanistan. There are educational learning centers for women and children, preschool programs, post-secondary institutes, a university, and teacher training programs. In addition, AIL has an in-depth program of health education and treatment for women and small children. Since its start in 1995, AIL has trained nearly 16,000 teachers and over 3.5 million women and children have received a quality education. With the health programs included, AIL has directly impacted over 6.7 million Afghans.

Sakena has been and continues to be recognized for her work. Her philosophy is to develop a program from the grass-roots level so the community members are an integral part of the process. State Kristof and DuWunn in their book Half The Sky- "American organizations would have accomplished much more if they had financed and supported Sakena, rather than dispatching their own representatives to Kabul...The best role for Americans who want to help Muslim women isn't holding the microphone at the front of the rally, but writing the checks and carrying the bags in the back."

Dr. Yacoobi and the work of the Afghan Institute of Learning have been supported by multiple grantors and organizations over the years. "I wish to thank everyone who has helped in this important work," states Sakena. "I want to share with each and every contributor the joy of seeing a young woman, who has a renewed interest in life because she can now read, or the happiness of a widow who has learned a skill that will allow her to support her children.

"We now have children who are healthy because of inoculations, and women who did not die during childbirth who have happy, healthy babies. My wish is that these small steps that allow awareness and growth in families will lead to the growth of our country."

Recently, we spoke with Sakena, and she has this message to all the supporters of AIL:

"It is an honor to be included in Nicholas' and Sheryl's book Half The Sky. So many foundations and individuals have contributed to the work that the Afghan Institute of Learning has been able to do in Afghanistan.

"From the bottom of my heart I want to thank all who have understood the plight of Afghan women and children, and have reached out with compassionate, caring support.

"May God reward your generosity......."


Recently, AIL was asked by the Afghan Ministry of Women’s Affairs to report on the impact AIL’s programs have had. We were amazed by our findings. Since beginning in 1996 through May 2009, 220,970 Afghans have been educated and received skills training in AIL schools, centers and post-secondary programs. 27, 619 Afghans (more than 70% female) have received teacher training or capacity-building training. 3,263 Afghans, mostly female, have participated in leadership and human rights workshops. Overall 6,778,026 Afghan lives have been directly impacted by AIL programs.

So far in 2009, AIL has held 9 leadership workshops for 313 Afghans, 263 of which were women. During these workshops, participants both large and small ways in which they can become leaders in their communities. Here are a few stories that participants in AIL’s leadership workshops have shared with us.

Fariba helped a friend have access to education. “I know a girl who was a high school student; but unfortunately her family did not like her going to school and eventually stopped her from attending. One day, she secretly came back to school and told me her story. I went to her home and used the leadership methods I learned from AIL to talk with her family. I gave her parents some examples of women in leadership roles and fortunately her parents allowed her to continue her education. I am so proud of myself for helping the girls so that now she can have a future.”

Rushan had this to say, “Soon after taking the leadership workshop I decided to start a project to play a role in my community. I opened a private literacy and sewing class for 17 women and girls in my home and I am trying to increase the number of my students. The leadership workshop opened my mind, and I want to educate other women so that they will be self confident.”

Shaima has found new ways to help support her family financially, “I am a teacher and it is very hard to meet my needs with my salary. After taking this workshop, I bought 20 hens which lay 20 eggs every day. My son takes the eggs to the market and sells them, which helps to support my family. The number of hens I own is increasing, as is the amount of income from their eggs. Thank you AIL for showing me that I could have an impact on my family.”

Our last story is about a female teacher named Shakiba. After participating in the workshop, she thanked the trainers, letting them know that the workshop was very helpful for her. After the workshops, she began designing sleepwear sets for children. Shakiba buys the cloth and designs the sleepwear and then gives the pattern and cloth to other women to sew it. She then sells the clothes at the market and is able charge good prices. Shakiba has created an income for herself, but has also created jobs for other women.

AIL recently received an update from Hafisa, a young woman that had taken classes at a Women’s Learning Center in rural Herat, Afghanistan. As a teenage girl, Hafisa began going to the WLC in her village where she became literate and learned to sew. In all of her classes, the teachers talked about human rights, peace, health and leadership, emphasizing that anyone can be a leader, even if in a small way. After graduating from the center, Hafisa was married and moved away. Hafisa’s sewing skills quickly made her popular in her new village with many people bringing her dresses for sewing. Soon, people in the village began asking her to open a center and teach other women to sew. Hafisa remembered the leadership lessons she learned at the AIL WLC in her village and knew that she could start a class. Starting a center to teach women to sew is a fairly novel concept. At first, her family ignored the requests, but due to community persistence, Hafisa’s family eventually allowed her to open a center in her home. Now she uses one room of her house to teach a sewing class and has 40 students. She collects a fee from the students, and this income has helped to change her family’s economic situation. She is respected in her community and her family is proud of her. Whenever she goes to her own village to see her parents, she visits the AIL center and thanks AIL for giving her the opportunity to be a useful person in her community. Not only did Hafisa learn to sew, she learned to be a leader and found that she could run a self-sufficient center.

During 2008, AIL held 16 leadership workshops in Afghanistan for 520 participants.

The objectives of the leadership workshops include increasing awareness among Afghans of their human rights, the meaning of democracy, how they can hold their elected leaders accountable, how they themselves can be accountable to the people that they serve and what they, as individuals can do to bring democracy and respect human rights to Afghanistan in a practical way.


About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

Afghan Institute of Learning

Location: Dearborn, Michigan - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
carolyn dunlap
Dearborn, Michigan Afghanistan

Funded Project!

Thanks to 43 donors like you, a total of $2,362 was raised for this project on GlobalGiving. Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

Still want to help?

Support another project run by Afghan Institute of Learning that needs your help, such as:

Find a Project

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence


Woman Holding a Gift Card
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter
WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.