After the attacks of September 11, 2001, families and friends who lost loved ones created the Safer World Fund (formerly the philanthropic arm of Our Voices Together). Since 2008, the Safer World Fund has matched donations for projects providing youth and community development in the poorest areas of the world. The total amount raised from individuals, including the matching funds, has almost reached $1 million!
The Safer World Fund recognizes that educating women is one of the best ways to make lasting change in a community, especially one at risk. UNICEF’s Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys report that educated women are more likely to educate and vaccinate their children, increase their incomes, and lift their families out of extreme poverty. Young people, especially young men, who battle with poverty, lack of education, and unemployment are most vulnerable to recruitment by terrorist groups. By educating girls and women, their families become more stable and thus decrease the risk of terrorist activity in their communities.
Read on to learn more about how Safer World Fund projects have been working in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
An AIL teacher and student
The Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) operates accelerated learning centers all throughout Afghanistan, where women can take classes in many subjects, such as reading, writing, English, math, science, sewing, and even computers. Because of AIL’s widely available learning centers, women like Fariba, whose husband is working abroad, can seek help and education. Fariba’s husband mailed her a letter, but because she was illiterate, she could not read it. She took it to one of AIL’s learning centers, where many women were able to read the letter to her and assure her that her husband was safe and healthy. Fariba then decided to take her own literary classes, so she could correspond with her husband on her own. “This is such a big step for me,” she says, “and he was very happy to have a letter written by me.” AIL also supports medical clinics, mobile units, and community health workers in Afghanistan.
Sahar students picking paint for new school
Sahar Education supports 12 schools in the northern Balkh province in Afghanistan, serving more than 28,000 girls. Before Sahar stepped in, the schools were in disrepair and teachers were undertrained. Now, curriculum is improving and computer literacy is a top priority. Recently, to celebrate the opening of a 13th school in Mazar-i-Sharif, students submitted artwork to decorate the new school. Fahima, a student at Gohar Kharton School, submitted her art because she wanted to make the new school “beautiful. War has torn our city apart and now we are rebuilding the Gohar Kharton Girls School.” “Sahar” means “dawn” in Dari, the most widely spoken language in Balkh province, and symbolizes that now is a new day for Afghan girls.
AAE student Anissa, left, and her daughter
Aid Afghanistan for Education (AAE) runs 13 schools in 9 provinces across Afghanistan and can issue state-certified diplomas (allowing students to go on to university) because of an agreement with the government. After the age of 10, one is not allowed to re-enter the public school system, so older girls and women, who may have left school because of war or early marriage, have few options besides AAE. During the most recent graduation in Kabul, AAE celebrated Anissa, a 45-year-old mother of 9 children who have all grown up and gone on to law and medical schools. Once her children were old enough, Anissa decided she wanted to return to school herself and graduated from AAE in December. Now, she’s attending a private law university near Kabul. Anissa’s proud family attended her graduation. Her daughter said, “I am very emotional to see my mother continue her education. She has always been the center of our lives, helping us to move forward and achieve what we all have. I am very happy today.”
Marshall Direct Fund students
The Safer World Fund also supports projects in Pakistan, just a little to the east of Afghanistan. The Marshall Direct Fund provides vocational training to nearly 1,000 women in Pakistan and has helped them develop tools necessary to launch businesses, generate income, send their children to school, and lift themselves out of poverty. Education in Pakistan is crucial, not only for increasing human development but also because uneducated, impoverished youth are among the most vulnerable to be recruited by the Taliban, still semi-active in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
DIL student Areej receiving an award
Developments in Literacy (DIL) also works in Pakistan, in the north, to empower young girls with education. 1,500 students, including a young girl named Areej, attend DIL’s schools. Areej dreams of becoming a fashion designer, a goal supported by her parents and teachers at DIL. Before DIL, Areej attended overcrowded public schools, but now she has the opportunity to learn more quickly and follow her own path. “In that school, I didn’t have the opportunity or a chance to do something. Now, I feel confident and can present in front of my whole class.”
The Safer World Fund needs your support to reach $1 million in funding to provide alternatives to terrorism. Give today and get your donation matched for projects that support youth and community development. Pick the impact closest to your heart and provide alternatives to a lifetime of poverty and despair: http://www.globalgiving.org/leaderboards/safer-world-fund-2014/