We need help funding the security improvements we need to make to our schools in Pakistan. As a result we’re trying a new fundraising technique to us, we’ve launched a crowd funding campaign through Global Giving! If you haven’t donated before, now is a great chance to give to a project that will have an immediate impact. The improvements range from hiring more security guards to installing gates and adding height to existing walls around the schools. Every dollar raised will make a difference!
If you’re like us you’re constantly scanning international news sources looking for articles about Pakistan and Afghanistan, but we know most people aren’t usually looking for such specific articles. Recently there has been a lot of activity going on in Pakistan that has caught our attention so we decided to try and sum up some of the activity that has really caught our attention.
Back in February the Punjab Assembly ruled that all violence against women was a criminal act. This is a huge step towards women getting greater rights in a country where they previously had next to none. The bill called “Protection of Women against violence Bill 2015” outlines different resources now available for women who are victims of violence.
“‘Violence’ itself has been redefined to mean any offence committed against the human body of the aggrieved person including abatement of an offence, domestic violence, sexual violence, psychological and emotional abuse, economic abuse, stalking and cyber crime.” –Pakistan Today
The Prime Minister has also spoken out against honor killings, which is when families are allowed to kill women in their families that have brought disgrace on the family name and essentially make them disappear without retribution. There are thousands of women who are killed or go missing every year in Pakistan because of honor killings but the Prime Minister has finally spoken out saying that there is no honor in honor killings which is another huge step in changes in how women are treated in a country where they previously didn’t have a lot of rights. For more information check out this article.
Last month in the wake of the Brussels attack by ISIS there was another attack that didn’t gain as much media attention. This attack happened in Lahore, Pakistan this time it was carried out by the Pakistani Taliban against mainly Christians. Thankfully Lahore is on the other side of Islamabad from where our schools are in Attock City but it was a tragedy none the less. Over 70 people were killed and hundreds more were injured, majority of which were women and children. To learn more about the attack check out this article.
Recently, those of us in the west have primarily only heard about the different attacks that ISIS carries out but the Pakistani Taliban is also a very real threat to our students. Around the time of the attack in Lahore, the Pakistani government required Barakat to either increase security around our schools or close our doors. We chose to increase security so that our students could continue to gain an education even though it put a strain on our financials. Improvements to the schools included adding additional security guards at all buildings, installing security cameras, making the walls around the schools taller and installing gates. We did all of this to make school a safe place for our students to come and learn but we can’t do it alone!
Monsoon season is quickly approaching and we’re reminded of just how dangerous monsoons can be. This past weekend there was flash flooding in the provinces just north of our schools. Thankfully our schools were not affected but it was certainly a reminder of just how dangerous flash flooding can be. 53 people were killed and many more injured not to mention all of the houses and businesses that are now covered in mud from the flood waters. Summer monsoons are not far behind so it’s only a matter of time till we start seeing more stories like this one.
We hope you find these articles as interesting as we did!
We realize we haven’t posted in a while and there are reasons for that. Usually we post about articles we find interesting and think you will too but this time we have news of our own! In late December one of our event coordinators, Mia Buchsbaum, took on the role of Administrator of our U.S. offices. During that time we also opted to close down our formal offices in Cambridge, MA. The reason for this is simple we want to make it possible for even more of every donation to go to what’s most important to us and likely most important to you as well, our programs in Pakistan and Afghanistan!
With that in mind, in the new year we took a close look at the yearly budgets for our programs to see where else we could lower overhead costs so a larger portion of funds we send overseas could go to our students instead of administrative costs. The result was the decision to close our main office for our Afghanistan programs located in Kabul Afghanistan and shift all operations to our smaller North Office. Our North Office is much closer to where our programs are actually taking place and thus has much closer ties to the community we’re trying to serve so is in a better position to represent what the programs need as opposed to a larger office south of the programs. This project is currently underway and will take about six months to be fully completed. However, we have already seen a drop in administrative costs for our Afghanistan program which means already more of every dollar donated is going to where it’s needed most, the schools!
On a much happier and exciting note we’re excited to announce that we had over 100 women graduate from our literacy programs at the end of December! The literacy program runs from April to December every year so it is on break till April when classes will resume again. The 2014-2015 school year also saw a record number of students enrolled in our programs with over 3,000 students enrolled, 62% of which were female! Stay tuned for more blog posts!
The holiday season is upon us, and it is sometimes difficult to not get lost in the overall chaos of shopping, spending, and self-absorbing in all of the gifts we wish to have. Yes, we can be thankful, but do we really see what truly matters during the holiday season? Are we thankful for what we view as life’s “simplicities”? Meaning, our cars, our homes, heat in the winter, air conditioning in the summer, and most importantly, the one thing that got us to obtain these items, our education.
Many people do not realize that over half of the world does not have the opportunities that we have in the United States to receive an education. This type of education is not collegiate-level, it is intermediate and secondary. A lot of people, women especially, are forced to drop out of school due to unsafe conditions, familial obligations, health issues, and the list goes on into much deeper, scarier realities that we are not accustomed to seeing in our daily lives.
Despite all of the craziness and chaos in your home this holiday season, take some time to think about what is happening in the rest of the world. There are a plethora of programs reaching towards educating the world’s youth that are continuing to grow in success.
Barakat, Inc. is a organization that builds schools in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, and continues to enrich these school’s literacy programs with each donation received.
If you would like to donate to our literacy programs and schools during this holiday season, please visit our website here. We appreciate each and every donation, no matter the amount, and hope you have a healthy and happy holiday season.
With and For Girls Collective, an international organization that supports educating adolescent girls through development projects, decided to donate over $1 million dollars in grants to twenty organizations around the world that value women’s rights and education. Each organization was awarded up to $50,000 dollars from With and For Girls Collective, and are allowed to spend the money however they feel necessary in order to support the organization’s values.
According to Muna Wehbe, CEO of the Stars Foundation, the World Bank estimates that two cents out of every $1 dollar donated through international aid is used for female adolescent education. This means that although women play a vital and necessary role in the continuing of the human race, their education seems to be valued the least.
Organizations that were able to receive the award include Aware Girls, a Pakistan based organization that teaches leadership and educating women on HIV and AIDS and the Shorqu Organization, which works with refugees from both Palestine and Bethlehem, as well as eighteen other organizations out of the 125 nominated for the grants.
These awards indicate new beginnings and goals throughout the world with the hope that donations for women’s education will continue to flourish, ultimately allowing women to become more knowledgeable in subjects they enjoy while learning in safe environments.
To read the full story, visit The Guardian.
To continue to support educating women in places such as Afghanistan and Pakistan, visit Barakatworld.org to find more information or make a donation.
A beautiful, crisp Fall day was the setting for our 8th Annual Walk for Literacy in Harvard Square this year. We had so many great volunteers and participants that were just as excited to walk as we were, but this year’s event featured a unique twist.
Displayed on a large rock right next to our registration tent were several hand-painted bags, created by young women in Afghanistan, that featured a photo of each woman who designed the specific bag inside. The bags were brought to the walk by artist Linda Bond, through her One to One Partners art exhibit, that directly works with women in Afghanistan who are currently enrolled in Literacy Programs. We are so appreciative of Ms. Bond and the women who created these special bags.
Barakat would also like to thank the rest of our volunteers and participants who came to our 8th annual Walk for Literacy. We are so fortunate to have such great supporters.
Photos from our Walk for Literacy can be viewed here and more information on Linda Bond’s exhibit can be viewed on her Website.
A brief video posted by the organization Plan International features young women from Pakistan sharing their message for the “Because I am A Girl” Campaign, which features a “Seven-Point Girls’ Declaration” on various subjects. These women have banned together to break the silence about women’s rights and education, particularly in their country but are supportive of all women in general. They had presented their message to the President of Pakistan and started such a powerful movement that they will be speaking in New York City to the UN to promote their message, as the UN agrees about Sustainable Development for the next fifteen years.
What an amazing thing accomplished at such as young age. #Girl4President
You can watch the Plan International Video here