Every Barakat Student is Unique


Over 3,000 students benefit from Barakat’s schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Barakat students are unique and come from a variety of different ethnic backgrounds.

Barakat’s schools in Afghanistan are located in the Faryab and Jowzjan provinces, which border Turkmenistan. This land is home to primarily the Turkmen and Uzbek people. Together, these groups form only 12% of the population of Afghanistan.

Many of the students in Barakat’s schools in Attock, Pakistan are Afghan refugees of Turkmen, Uzbek, Hazara, Pashtun, and Tajik descent. The majority of these students however are of Turkmen descent, and many are 2nd and 3rd generation descendants of refugees who entered Pakistan during the 1980’s Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Every ethnic group in both Afghanistan and Pakistan is distinct with their own languages and traditions.


Turkmen people are typically Sunni Muslim, and speak the Turkmen language. They are descendants of Turkic tribes. Turkmen people are not well represented in Afghan politics, making it difficult for them to advocate for their rights within the country. They are mostly farmers, herders, merchants, and rug weavers. Carpet weaving has traditionally been the primary source of income for the Turkmen people, and they are renowned for their skill and art. A small number of Turkmen people live as nomadic herders.


The majority of Uzbek people are Sunni Muslim, and speak the Uzbek language. Historically, they descended from people in Central Asia. Today, many Uzbek people are primarily farmers and merchants in Northern Afghanistan. Craftsmanship, including carpet weaving, is also a part of their culture. Recently, they have gained a stronger role in politics.


The Hazara people make up 9% of the population of Afghanistan. They speak a dialect of Dari, which is the one of the national languages of Afghanistan. The Hazara people mainly live in central Afghanistan, and they are the largest Shia Muslim tribal group in the country. Historically, Hazara people have been economically and socially discriminated against because of their religious beliefs. However, recently, the Hazara people have gained more political and economic power within Afghanistan.


Pashtun people make up the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan. They speak Pashto, which is also a national language. Pashto, however, is usually only spoken by the Pashtun population. They are almost all Sunni Muslim, and have been traditionally the strongest tribal group represented in the Afghan government. The Pashtun people are work in fields such as agriculture, trade, government positions, military, and education.


The Tajik people are the second most populous group in Afghanistan, with approximately 8 million people. They are majority Sunni Muslim, although some are Shia. They speak Dari, and mostly live in the northern part of the country and the Panjshir Valley. They are also found in diverse fields, including government, trade, education, agriculture, and the military. As the second largest tribe, they hold political influence in Afghanistan.

Each ethnic group in Afghanistan and Pakistan has its own culture, language, religion, and practices. Barakat is committed to teach a diverse population. Students from every ethnic, tribal, and religious group are welcome in our schools. We want all of our students to learn in an inclusive environment so they can benefit their entire community. The diversity of each student is what makes Barakat so unique.


Barakat’s Fundraiser


We just finished up our fundraiser with Global Giving, where donations were matched by 40% while funds lasted. Together, we raised over $500 for Barakat students! Thank you so much for your support!

What can Barakat do with over $500? This money will allow us to send six children to school for a year!

What Barakat provides to students in Afghanistan:

  • Teacher and staff salaries
  • Textbooks and stationery
  • Health services
  • Clean water
  • Firewood
  • Uniforms

What students will learn:

  • Pashto
  • Arabic
  • Turkish
  • Mathematics
  • English
  • Science
  • Islamic Studies
  • Social Sciences

Barakat’s goals for our students:

  • To promote tolerance
  • To advocate for nonviolence

What students can do with this education:

  • Lift themselves and their families out of poverty
  • Improve their communities through exchanging ideas

Thank you again! We are very grateful.



Free Education for Barakat Students in Afghanistan


Barakat has teamed up with Global Giving, an organization that helps raise funds for nonprofits. On July 12th, all donations to Barakat up to $1,000 will be matched by 40% while funds last! One of our goals is to reach $13,860 for our schools in Afghanistan in order to provide free education for our students. For more information on donations, click here.

Our schools in Afghanistan are located in Faryab Province and Jowzjan Province, both in northern Afghanistan. Barakat runs two schools, the Mullah Karim Nazar School and the Besh Kappa Surkh School.


Mullah Karim Nazar School: Faryab Province

In 2003, three acres of land were donated by Barakat co-founder Habibullah Karimi’s family. Construction was completed in 2005, and the school was named after Habibullah Karimi’s father. The building has classrooms, offices, and restrooms for faculty and students. As clean water is not available in the area, Barakat provides drinking water for the school.

The Mullah Karim Nazar School currently teaches students in 1st through 9th grade. In 2014-2015, there were 1,021 students total: 563 male and 458 (44%) female. In July, 47 students, 18 girls and 29 boys, will be graduating!


Besh Kappa Surkh School: Jowzjan Province

In 2004, a local resident donated an acre of land to Barakat. Construction on the school was completed in 2007. The building has classrooms, offices, and restrooms for both students and faculty. The school is named after the surrounding communities, Besh Kappa Village and Surkh Village. Barakat also provides clean water for the school.

The Besh Kappa Surkh School currently teaches students through 8th grade, but is looking to expand to 9th grade. In 2015-2016, 472 were students enrolled: 411 male and 62 (12%) female.

Teachers in both the Mullah Karim Nazar School and the Besh Kappa Surkh School are trained by the Afghan government at an education center in Andkhoy, Afghanistan. Students are taught in Dari, the national language of the country. Classes include English, Pashto, Turkish, Arabic, science, mathematics, social science, an Islamic studies.


Home Based Literacy Program

Barakat offers two types of Home Based Literacy Programs. These programs allow girls who would otherwise not go to school receive an education. These courses are made by the Afghan Ministry of Education, and are meant to be similar to the school based programs.

The lower-level course “Sewad Amousi,” meaning, “to teach one to be literate,” is a 10 month program that teaches students in local homes. Students range in age, from 15 to 65 years old. In 2014-2015, there were 266 students in this program.

The other literacy program is a higher-level course called “Sewad Hayati,” meaning “literate for life.” This program runs over the course of six years, and offers many similar classes that are taught in the school based programs. In 2014-2015, there were 290 students in this program.


How You Can Benefit Barakat

Consider donating on July 12th to allow students in these schools to receive a free education!


$10 = 1 month of school for 1 child

$30 = 1 month of school for 3 children

$60 = 1 month of school for 6 children

$90 = 1 year of elementary school for 1 child

$150 = 1 month of school for 16 children

$180 = 1 year of school for 2 children

$540 = 1 year of school for 6 children

$3,600 = 1 year of school for 40 children


Link to donate: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/education-for-1700-children/#menu


Inspirational Women in Afghanistan and Pakistan


Women in leadership positions have a positive effect on the entire community. A study in West Bengal, India, found that in areas with more female politicians, the gender gap within education significantly decreased. Parents were also more likely to invest in the education of their daughters. Role models are incredibly important for everyone; they give people inspiration and allow individuals to organize and prioritize their goals.

Inspirational Women of Pakistan


We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back. We call upon our sisters around the world to be brave – to embrace the strength within themselves and realize their full potential.”  – Malala Yousafza

Inspirational Women of Afghanistan


Do you think, however, that our nation from the outset needs only men to serve it? Women should also take their part as women did in the early years of our nation and Islam. From their examples we must learn that we must all contribute toward the development of our nation and that this cannot be done without being equipped with knowledge. So we should all attempt to acquire as much knowledge as possible, in order that we may render our services to society in the manner of the women of early Islam.” ― Soraya Tarzi

Again, this is just a small list of inspirational women throughout Pakistan and Afghanistan’s history. There are so many women, in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and around the world, who act as role models for millions of people. Through education, Barakat gives individuals the tools they need to follow their goals, and in doing so, allow people to become role models for the next generation.



The Importance of Literacy


Literacy in a population is defined as the number of people, aged 15 and older, who can both read and write. In 2015, only 38.2% of Afghanistan’s population was literate – 52% of men, and 24.2% of women. In Pakistan, 57.9% of the population was literate – 69.5% of men and 45.8% of women. Why are literacy rates so low in both of these countries? Why is this important, and how can we improve it?

There are a number of factors that contribute to low literacy rates. Literacy is affected by location, and is typically lower in rural areas. In cities, there are usually higher literacy rates. For example, in Islamabad, with a population of 2 million, literacy reached nearly 96%. Women in both countries have significantly lower literacy rates than men. This is often due to cultural norms and traditional roles. But what happens if we allow girls to receive an education?

Literacy improves self-confidence. Being able to read and write empowers individuals to be active in their community, and involved in social discussions. There is also evidence that literacy improves health. When individuals are able to read and write, they are able to make better choices with their healthcare. Investing in education can create changes over generations. Women who receive an education are more than two times as likely to send their own children to school. Additionally, it is also economically advantageous for girls to receive an education. Countries can lose up to $1 billion of their GDP in a year by not providing girls the same educational opportunities as boys. An extra year of school can increase a girl’s income by 20% when she is an adult.

Barakat works hard to provide education at no cost to our students. This includes classes, uniforms, books, stationary, firewood, clean water, health services, and teacher salaries. Donations from supporters of Barakat make our work possible.

$50 = 1 year of literacy

$90 = 1 year of elementary school

$110 = 1 year of middle school

$170 = 1 year of high school

$1,300 = 1 entire literacy program for a year

For more information, or if you would like to donate to Barakat, please click here. Literacy improves people’s lives, and Barakat allows communities to thrive.



Geography and Environment


We believe that it is incredibly important for supporters of Barakat to learn about the landscape, culture, and people of both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Although we work in both countries, they are not easily comparable. These blogs will try to give readers a better understanding of both countries, while emphasizing each of their rich and unique cultures and environments.

A flight from Boston to Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, or Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, would take nearly 20 hours – that is, if you flew one of the more direct routes. Both cities are over 6,500 miles from Barakat’s home base in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Although Barakat team members are located all over the world, we work closely together to promote our goal: helping communities thrive through education.

To give our US readers some context, Pakistan is 796,095 square kilometers, or about twice the size of California. While there are mountains, including K2, and cooler temperatures in the north, much of Pakistan is covered with dry, hot deserts. Due to the country’s location, there are frequent earthquakes. Pakistan has a small border with the Arabian Sea, and neighbors Iran, Afghanistan, China, and India. In 2016, Pakistan’s population reached over 201 million people.

Afghanistan is slightly smaller, at 652,230 square kilometers, or about the size of Texas. The weather is usually very dry, with hot summers and colder winter months. The country is covered in mountainous terrain, including Noshaq mountain, which stands at 24,580 feet above sea level. Earthquakes are also relatively frequent in these mountains. Afghanistan is a landlocked country, and borders Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, China, and India. Afghanistan’s population in 2016 reached over 33 million people.

Each country also faces a number of environmental issues. Approximately 16 million people in Pakistan do not have access to clean and safe drinking water, and 68 million people do not have have access to sanitation. While these numbers are staggering, many organizations are working to promote clean water and sanitation in these areas, including WaterAid, Charity:water, and the Al-Khidmat Foundation.

Afghanistan also faces a shortage of clean water and sanitation. Only 30% of individuals in rurals areas have access to safe water, and only 29% of Afghans have access to sanitary bathrooms. A number of organizations are currently working to improve Afghans’ quality of life by advocating for clean water and sanitation in the country, including the American Friendship Foundation, UNICEF, and Zam Zam Water.

There is a link between access to clean water and girls’ education. Globally, it is the responsibility of women and girls to collect water for their families. Averaging over 3 miles per day and 5 gallons per trip, many girls can miss school because of this task. A global effort is needed to improve access to clean water and sanitation in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. As a result, women and girls will have greater opportunities to participate in the economy, further their education, and improve the lives of themselves and their families.



Recent events in Afghanistan


Dear readers, wishing you a very happy Wednesday from the Barakat Team.

Although Ramadan is meant to be a month of peace and spirituality, in the last two years with worsening conflict in the Muslim world, Ramadan has become a month of violence and bloodshed. On May 26th, there was a Taliban attack on a military base in the Kandahar Province. This attack left 15 or more Afghan soldiers dead. On May 27th, at least 18 people were killed by a suicide car bomber that attacked Afghan police providing security to US forces in easter Afghanistan. The casualties included civilians – women and children – who were in the area at the time of the attack. The attack took place in the Adraskan district of Herat. The deadliest attack of them all took place on May 31st, where a truck bomb blast on Wednesday killed at least 80 people and wounded more than 300 in Kabul. Officials describe  the bombing as one of the biggest to have hit the Afghan capital and witnesses describe the blast as an “earthquake.” This is especially concerning because the area is under high-level security, and insurgents are consistently managing to get around that. For the time being no definitive responsibility has been taken by any insurgent entity and no evidence of who conducted the attack has been presented, but someone will definitely take responsibility in the next few days. Naturally, the Taliban immediately denied responsibility, for they would not want people to question their Islamic values and stance, especially since an attack of this size during Ramadan would really diminish their popularity. On the other hand ISIL does not have the capacity nor the resources or influence in Afghanistan to conduct such an attack of this magnitude but may claim the attack in a shower of power. Finally, the real long-term concern is that the Afghan government seems to be failing in terms of security, and a lack of strategic intelligence and leadership has made it easy for insurgents to conduct these kinds of attacks.

What is Ramadan?


Good morning from Cambridge, Massachusetts,

Today I thought it would be interesting to explore the question on everyone’s mind – what is Ramadan? Is there more to it than fasting? Why do Muslims even fast at all?

Ramadan is the ninth month on the Islamic calendar, which is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, the month that is used to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Mohammed as well as Mohammed’s ascension to the lowest heaven. The observance of Ramadan or sawm is one of the five pillars of Islam, which are five basic acts in Islam that are considered mandatory by believers. During this month, Muslims fasting (abstain from drinking water and eating food) between the hours of sunrise and sundown.Fasting is not obligatory for several groups of people for whom it would be problematic and damaging to one’s health. For example, diabetics and nursing or pregnant women are not obligated to fast.

One of the holiest nights of Ramadan, and arguably one of the holiest nights in Islam is called Laylat al Qadr. It was on this night that the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the Prophet. It is on this night that Muslims believe that all prayers are answered, and sins are forgiven.

Food and drink are not the only things that Muslims abstain from while fasting. They also refrain from having sexual intercourse, smoking and doing drugs. Furthermore, Muslims who are fasting should not indulge in obscene speech,  falsehood in speech or action and slander.

Ramadan is a month of spiritual growth, abstinence, and fostering feelings of empathy for those who do not have access to food and drink due to poverty or other circumstances.


Notable Women in Pakistan (Part 1)


Hello readers! A lot of stereotypes have been generated in the last few decades about women in Pakistan, and other Muslim countries. We at Barakat would like to make you aware of Pakistani women who have really stood up for themselves and their beliefs, have become leaders in their respective professions, leaders of the communities, and positive influences for other women in their home country and all over the world.

Benazir Bhutto was the 11th Prime Minister of Pakistan from 1988-1990 in her first term and 1993-1996. She was the first democratically elected female leader of a Muslim country. Benazir was born into a political family – her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was Prime Minister, and was removed from his leadership position in a military coup in 1977. Benazir attended the prestigious Radcliffe College at Harvard University, where she studied comparative government. Benazir continued to fight for her beliefs and her party even when she was in exile in the 2000s, and her persistence became very apparent when she returned to Karachi in 2007, to prepare for the 2008 national elections. Benazir was killed on the 27th of December 2007, while she was leaving a campaign rally.

Malala Yousafzai was born on the 12th of July 1997 and hails from Swat, Pakistan. She harnessed public attention when she was shot by a Taliban gunman for her role as a social activist promoting female education. Yousafzai is the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate and continues to spread awareness for education, especially for women, in Swat valley, where women were unable to go to school, due to the Taliban’s influence. At the young age of 19, Malala has co-written her memoir, received dozens of awards for her bravery and leadership, and founded the Malala Fund. The Malala Fund works to secure a girls’ right to quality education.

Recent Events in Afghanistan: MOAB


Good morning from Cambridge, wishing you all a great week ahead!

The last few weeks have been rather troubling and turbulent in Afghanistan. There has been a lot of political unrest in the country, and relations with Pakistan have also been quite strained recently, which has also put pressure on the government as trade has been interrupted and civilians’ livelihood his being affected. More recently, however, the United States military, under the direct orders of President Donald Trump, carefully organized the drop of a MOAB on the Achin district in Afghanistan, which has had a number of repercussions, both physically, socially, and politically.

About the MOAB:

On April 13th the Untied States military dropped its “most powerful conventional bomb” on caves in the Achin district that, based on United States intelligence, was used by affiliates of the Islamic State.

What to know about the MOAB bob?

  • Nicknamed the “mother of all bombs”
  • America’s most powerful non-nuclear bomb
  • Weighs 21,600 lbs
  • Targeted ISIS tunnel and cave complex and personnel in Afghanistan

To read more please visit this page.

Results of the MOAB:

“Gen. Dawlat Waziri, a spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry, said initial information indicated that 36 militants had been killed and three large caves destroyed in the bombing in Nangarhar Province. However, Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the provincial governor’s office, said 82 militants had been killed.”

The blast was felt and heard by tens of miles away, a tribal elder who lives less than two miles from the targeted area believed that his village had been the target as they physically felt the blast, and shrapnel and rocks as heavy as five pounds fell on his house, the tribal leader said.

To read more please visit this page.

Reactions to the MOAB: 

The MOAB, though carefully orchestrated by the United States sparked international controversy. Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai called the use of the MOAB as a “brutal act” against the sovereignty of Afghanistan and criticized President Trump’s orders and advocated for the immediate removal of American troops from Afghanistan. Although it has been claimed that 90 Islamic State militants were killed by the weapon, Karzai called the event “an inhumane act, a brutal act against an innocent country, against innocent people, against our land, against our sovereignty, against our soil and against our future… A bomb of that magnitude has consequences for the environment, for lives, for our plants, for our water, for our soil – this is poison, a poison that will be there for years.” Karzai is not the only person to speak out on the attack, many are criticizing the United States’ aggressive approach in trying to eliminate ISIS, especially since it is costing innocent civilians their livelihood as well as the livelihood of future generations.

To read more please visit this page.