Monthly Archives: July 2015

MAPS and ESUC Host Annual Barakat Fundraiser

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On Saturday, April 18th, women from the Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS) and East Shore Unitarian Universalist (ESUC) Women’s Perspective hosted their annual benefit fundraiser for Barakat. These benefits serve us at Barakat not only by bringing donations, but by engaging a distant community with our mission, and promoting the values we stand by. MAPS and ESUC have joined together for five years to host an educational and entertaining program for those interested in learning how to help women and children acquire the literacy skills they need and deserve. These fundraisers began after members of MAPS and ESUC read Half the Sky, a book which highlights the oppression and suffering faced by women, and the importance of granting women control of their lives and futures. Half the Sky asserts that our modern moral dilemma is primarily the oppression of women, and compels its readers to take on the challenge head-first. Touched by what they read, both organizations decided to join the movement and participate in supporting, educating, and empowering women and children.

This year’s potluck fundraiser was held in Redmond, Washington at MAPS. The event included several speakers, an auction, and interactive booths with various activities. Attendees at these booths reported that everyone had a great time practicing their calligraphy, experiencing the beauty of henna, and learning about Hijab Art. Kids and adults alike enjoyed a tremendous sharing of stories, culture, and art as they raised over  $2,700.00! Community participants were able to take home a newfound appreciation for the power of global education, deep cultural connections, and lasting memories. Ties between our Barakat schools’ communities and the Redmond, Washington community were formed, thanks to the efforts of MAPS and ESUC. Barakat is always delighted to see long-lasting connections form despite geographic and cultural barriers. Without these connections, a global standard of education could not be reached.

Barakat is proud to share with you the efforts of our dedicated and hard-working donors and volunteers who commit themselves, like us, to providing exemplary basic education in Afghanistan and Pakistan, particularly for women and girls. It is the hard work of organizations such as MAPS and ESUC that allow our students in Pakistan and Afghanistan to shine!

For those interested in supporting Barakat through events and volunteering, please visit our website here.

Afghan First Lady Promotes Careful Compromise

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News sources have showed much interest lately in Afghanistan’s First Lady, Rula Ghani, and her unconventional media presence. A recent Washington Times’ article states that: “Rula Ghani has done what first ladies often do in democracies, attending public events alongside her husband and speaking before audiences on current issues. But her words have always been soft-spoken, measured and delivered away from the center stage of the Afghan political scene.”

Often times, Afghanistan’s first ladies are ‘invisible’, neither seen nor heard in public, and certainly not involved in any politics or activism. Ghani is one of the few First Ladies to appear as an advocate and counselor for female political issues. Her husband, President Ashraf Ghani, even set the stage for his wife’s presence by introducing her in his inaugural speech. That act alone isolates Ghani as a controversial female figure.

Ghani, however, in an interview with The Associated Press, refers to herself as merely a ‘listening post’. She refuses the expectation that she serve as an advocate for women’s rights and rejects the treatment Afghan women as victims or prisoners who are in need of escape. Instead, Ghani refers to Afghan women as “very strong women, indeed living in very challenging conditions, showing a lot of resilience, [and] a lot of resourcefulness”.

When placed in the scope of a democracy, Ghani’s actions may seem small. However, an interesting comparison arises when looking at statements made by First Lady Michelle Obama. The First Lady recently delivered a speech in which she defends the act of careful compromise. She stated:

“Do compromises make [great] leaders sell-outs? Traitors to their cause? I don’t think so. Instead I think they knew that if they could just get everyone to take that first step, then folks would keep on moving in the right direction. And they also understood that often the biggest, most dramatic change happens incrementally, little by little, through compromises and adjustments over years and decades. And I know that these days that can seem counterintuitive because we live in such an instantaneous age, [but] if you want to change their minds, if you want to work with them to move [a] country forward, you can’t just shut them out. You have to persuade them and you have to compromise with them. That’s what so many of our heroes in history have done…  they knew where they wanted to go, and they were strategic and pragmatic about getting there.”
(First Lady Michelle Obama, May 25, 2015)

Even in a democracy which centers itself on heated debates and polarized belief systems, the First Lady advocates for incremental change. Simply appearing in public and representing Afghan women as a ‘listening post’ can be a big move towards compromise. Could Ghani have made the first step towards a new female representation in Afghanistan? First Lady Michelle Obama and First Lady Rula Ghani may have more in common than first meets the eye; although they are female representatives for two very different nations, both are advocates for the careful compromises and small adjustments that move a society forward.

Here at Barakat, we know that change comes one step at a time; each girl who enrolls in our schools benefits individually from her education, but also serves as an advocate for slow but steady change, much like Rula Ghani. One girl can make a difference, even if that difference comes slowly, and in the form of small compromises.

We urge our supporters to help us continue our mission, and join us on the path towards global education, even if that path can seem long and winding at times! It is the careful consideration of different beliefs and a firm sense of understanding that will promote change for the better.

To learn how to advance the education of women and children and support Barakat’s most recent cause, visit our One for Education website here.