Below is the first installment in a series of posts by Barakat’s Interim Executive Director, Lyla Hardesty. During the next two weeks, Lyla will be doing program assessment at Barakat’s schools in Attock, Pakistan, and giving us a glimpse into her experience. In this first post, Lyla hears about how Barakat alumni use social media sites like Facebook to keep in touch with their schools and encourage other girls to continue studying by showing them how many opportunities education offers:
“It’s load-shedding time,” Abdul Rehman explained. “Everything is slower now.” That may have been true, but I was still crowded around a tiny computer screen with six people looking at pictures on Facebook in Attock, Pakistan, a remote town two hours from Islamabad. Sometimes slow is relative.
“There are many former Barakat students on Facebook,” explained Ghulam Rasul, a Barakat alum himself. “They really like staying connected with their school.”
Abdul Rehman, Barakat’s Deputy Director, pointed to a photograph. “This girl,” he said with a smile, “was a Barakat student in the early 90s. She got married and is sending her children to Barakat schools. This boy too,” he said. We were on a roll now. “He went back to Afghanistan, and now he is sending his children to the Barakat school in Faryab province.”
“And look at him,” said Abdul Rehman. He pointed to a young boy in a yellowed photograph that had been scanned onto Facebook. “He graduated from Ersari Elementary and went on to high school. Now he’s in Kabul making $600 a month. But him,” he pointed to another boy in the same picture, “he didn’t complete school.” Abdul Rehman paused. “he sells sabzi (vegetables) on a pushcart now.
“Barakat has many students like this boy in Kabul,” Abdul Rehman continued. “Those who complete 8th grade and have the support of their parents often continue and end up making much more money than their classmates, with good jobs literally all over the world.” In addition to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Barakat alumni have found jobs in Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Russia and Iran. This is an admirable feat for Afghans whose families and communities, in the past, have long opposed education. The results are a great source of pride for these families.
This is one of the reasons that I’m here–to put numbers to the impact our staff and students know we’re making and to track the lives that have been changed because of our schools. I’m looking forward to hearing more stories like these in the next two weeks.
Like what you see? Interested in hearing more? Check back often to see more posts from Lyla. You can also check out Barakat’s website for more information about Barakat’s schools and literacy programs in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. You can also donate to Barakat to give more women and children the chance for an education. Don’t forget our twitter @Barakatinc!