Afghan Institute of Learning Empowers Afghan Women

by Afghan Institute of Learning
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Women in an AIL Clinic
Women in an AIL Clinic

All of us at Creating Hope International (CHI) and the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) thank our donors for their support of Afghan women. Since January this year, our learning centers provided education in literacy, tailoring, English, Arabic, math, and science to 19,500 students, of which 13,600 were women and girls. Through June, some 1,620 women took part in educational workshops including topics in reproductive health, leadership, food preparation, and our expectant mother workshops. Over 700 of these women took part in teacher training workshops and seminars, bettering themselves as educators and leaders of their communities.

Educating women is one of the best ways to empower them because they gain self-determination. They gain the freedom to make their own decisions and they gain the skills needed to earn money for themselves and their families. Because of this, communities begin to see women as capable, fully-fledged members of society. This approach allows both the women getting an education and the communities to change their preconceived notions at the grassroots level.

In June, our Herat offices held a week long leadership workshop for 37 women, a majority of whom were university students in their late teens to mid-twenties. They discussed things such as what makes a leader, the difference between bureaucratic administration and leadership, how to share and build upon ideas, topics in social justice, and how leadership can make democracy work in communities. Going in, the women by and large did not know what leadership was; many assumed only people from a particular background or people with weapons could be real leaders. Coming out, the women had new outlooks of what it meant to be a leader.

Sahar, a young woman who took part in the workshop, said:

This workshop gave me new ideas toward a new thinking for a better life for me and my community. I feel more self-confident and sufficient in myself anymore. I learned there is no limitation for a woman to be a good leader.  I will not be shy anymore. As a good leader I am going to change my future." 

Sharifa, coming from a different background, had this to say:

"I am a tailor. Before I came to this workshop, I believed that a tailor doesn't need to be a leader. Leadership is only for a certain group of people in a community, but my mind has changed after this workshop. I learned to use my knowledge usefully and transfer it to others. I learned to observe mutual respect as a good leader in the community. Observing justice is another change that I feel in myself since attending the leadership workshop."

We hosted 16 of these leadership workshops through June, and we have scheduled an additional 21 over the next twelve months. Every day we are providing more and more opportunities for Afghan women to empower themselves and each other, be it through our learning centers in literacy and tailoring classes, through our leadership and reproductive health workshops, or through our clinics providing maternal and preventative care. Again, we want to thank you all so much for your support, we could not have accomplished what we have without you!

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

Links:

Women
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! 

Links:

Girls at a Workshop
Girls at a Workshop

All of us at Creating Hope International (CHI) and the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) would like to thank all of our donors for a very successful year thus far. Every day AIL is bringing education and health care services to more and more Afghan women and children, increasing their quality of life and their standard of living. Women who participate in our learning center programs and the workshops we sponsor are becoming more independent, and are enabled to control aspects of their lives that they were powerless over previously. Without your support, none of this could be possible. 

In 2012, AIL held 96 workshops which hosted over 3,400 women, offering instruction on topics such as leadership, reproductive health, and social justice. AIL health clinics also offer services to Afghans at little to no cost to them, an amenity that is normally not available or accessible to women. Our leadership workshops and seminars encourage women to take the lead in their communities and their families. Young women are breaking the mold of traditional Afghan society and are administering programs, becoming teachers, and working for the government. Women are also taking their reproductive health into their own hands, learning and receiving proper prenatal care, learning methods child spacing, and having access to family planning services. Participants in the workshops also learn about social issues like human rights, democratic values, and the value of peace. Afghan women are changing their society from the bottom up and from within.

AIL learning centers held classes for 7,067 women and girls in January, 2013, which has shattered all of our previous attendance records. These numbers are expected to grow throughout the rest of the year. Women are taking classes in literacy, English, Arabic, math, and the sciences, all of which expand their minds and horizons, offering them insight as well as critical thinking ability. Women are also taking applicable training courses in weaving, tailoring, sewing, and macramé, all of which allow for them to earn an income by starting a business or working from home. In both cases, women are taking more control of their lives. These changes are very hopeful and we are optimistic that 2013 will be an even more successful year for Afghan women and girls. We could not have accomplished what we have without your support; we thank you all very much!

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. 


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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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