pakistan Posts

The Safer World Fund Nears $1 Million Milestone to Educate and Empower Women in Afghanistan and Pakistan

The Safer World Fund

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

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 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

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

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

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:

A Rocky Start to 2008

The new year has been off to a rather sad, turbulent start with all the unrest around the world. Myself, I was slated to meet some project leaders in Pakistan and accompany a team of evaluators visiting a project GlobalGiving donors have funded in Mansehra. With the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, that plan was cancelled and I flew back to the US from India. Something we often chat about is our worries about our Project Leaders when we hear of such events. I know that at times I get frustrated if they are not responding to emails or are late in follow up. Then I read emails like the ones below and I realize that these men and women are doing great work in very difficult situations.

Hearing about things in the news is one thing but hearing from people in the midst of the chaos, really brings home to me that these are real people, dealing with real situations and real turmoil be it the fallout of post-election chaos or the assasination of a political leader.

From Project Leader Stella Omunga in Kenya:

Yes, indeed they are now even burning people who have taken refuge in churches. The situation in Eldoret is the worst and believe you me, GEMINI has not been cowed by all this. We are regrouping and doing anything in our power to provide humanitarian assistance and on a personal level, I’m providing shelter to the most vulnerable women and children and psychological counseling to the affected families in a nearby church compound.

You can support efforts to provide comfort and relief to those affected by this crisis here:

Urgent Aid for Kenya– Food, Supplies, and Support

From Project Leader Nabeel Khan in Pakistan:

Things in the state of Punjab especially Lahore is settling down as there is deployment of the police however i cannot say the same about the state of Sindh where Karachi (the largest metropolitan) is in a state of shambles where a majority number of cities are under curfew where Rangers have been given a shoot to kill order (which is more to intimidate than any credible threat). Banks and Food Chains have been set on fire. Furthermore, since Kashf has had branches in many parts of Punjab, the area managers were put on high alert. Most offices in Pakistan were either closed due to security reasons and even if some were open, there was but little staff.It is indeed a bad way to end a reasonably good year however lets all hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Our thoughts are with our Project Leaders and we hope for a much better 2008 for everyone. You can always check our see results page for the latest news from the field.

On the Road

Earlier this spring, I had the opportunity to visit some project leaders in Nairobi. I was so impressed with their enthusiasm and eagerness to learn about GlobalGiving and how to appeal to GG donors. I have to say, some folks from that batch have turned out to be real rockstars!

Towards the end of December, GlobalGiving will have the opportunity to meet some Project Leaders in India, Indonesia and Pakistan. We’d love to learn more about the leaders behind these projects and find out about the work they’re doing. We plan to host a few workshops to bring them together and to answer their queries!  Here are just a few of the people we’re planning to visit:

However, as a GlobalGiving donor myself, I wondered, “What would I want to learn from the donor perspective?”

So I would pose this question to you-have you supported any projects in Delhi, Udaipur or Chennai or Indonesia and Pakistan? What more do you want to know?  What else would you like to see? Do you want more project photos?  Interviews with the people behind the project?  Be creative!  Send us your thoughts and questions, and we’ll try to answer as many of them as we can while we’re there.