Category Archives: Education

Global Giving Fundraising Campaign Launched!

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Global Giving Fundraising Campaign Launched!

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!

 

Changes to Barakat!

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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!

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Over $1 Million Dollars Awarded to Groups Supporting Young Women

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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.

 

Point #3 More Funds Towards Girls’ Education

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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

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.

Pakistan students take summer vacation!

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Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 3.15.38 PMEducation is a fundamental human right and we at Barakat hold firm to this belief; however, every student deserves a break! An exciting time of year unfolds in Pakistan as students embark on their well-deserved summer vacations. Barakat schools in Pakistan closed for summer break on June 1 and will resume next school year beginning August 16. Barakat Pakistan staff is also on holiday from June 13 through July 27.

Currently, our incredibly hard-working teachers are planning the school curriculum, reviewing the study plans, and arranging to add some extra-curricular activities to the mix! Our Barakat Pakistan staff takes this time to prepare for the perfect school year, even decorating classrooms with charts and drawings, decorations that will help the students acclimate and learn. Our teachers created fantastic decorations that are already brightening the classrooms!

picSharply contrasting the weather in Afghanistan, students in Pakistan find themselves largely home-bound as the temperatures can exceed 110 degrees Fahrenheit during these summer months! Nevertheless, students are eager to begin their summer festivities; many of the students and their families travel to Afghanistan during this time.

Not only has summer begun, but the Holy month of Ramadan will begin on June 19. Throughout the month following, all teachers and staff will join the students on holidays. As the climate can be dangerously warm, and Ramadan fasting limits the activities that our students and teachers can do, much of the vacation is spent busy at home, preparing for Eid.

Azizullah, from our fourth grade classroom, is excited to help his father tend to the vegetable shop, earning some extra money to spend at the Eid ul Fitr festival at the end of Ramadan. Fatima is excited to wear her gorgeous new dress for Eid, and spend the month in Afghanistan with her family. Ms. Mehnaz, teacher at the elementary school, expressed that the whole of Ramadan will be a busy time at home while fasting. During the teachers’ vacation, she will complete her household affairs that she was unable to tend to during the working months.

Students at our Barakat schools receive very few assignments to complete during their summer vacation. Between the heat of the summer and the busy time of Ramadan, teachers hope not to burden students with any heavy summer assignments. Instead, many students will relax throughout this break, or often travel to Afghanistan. Barakat staff in Cambridge wish our students and teachers a fun and relaxing holiday!

Changing Tides: Afghanistan’s Evolving Outlook On Women

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Changing Tides: Afghanistan’s Evolving Outlook On Women

Afghanistan is changing – with new president Ashraf Ghani, the world is hoping that at long last, Afghanistan will clean up its act. President Karzai governed amidst allegations of corruption, even from his own ministers; the Taliban still hold much of southern Afghanistan; Afghan forces are suffering from “unsustainable casualty rates.” And President Ghani too, has been subject to accusations of wrongdoing, such as those perpetuated by his presidential rival, Abdullah Abdullah, regarding electoral fraud.

But President Ghani does seem to be different. Notably, he has spoken up time and again about his vision of an Afghanistan where women in society are empowered. As reported by the Associated Press at President Ghani’s inauguration speech, “in the face of these girls I can see future Afghan leaders,” he said as he told his “sisters” in attendance that they have equal rights in society and government.

Moreover, President Ghani stands out for having paid public tribute to his wife, Rula Ghani, in his inauguration speech – a highly unconventional act, as Afghan leaders’ wives typically remain silent in the background. The First Lady herself commented that “by mentioning me the way he did, my husband really showed exactly what I mean by helping Afghan women be more assertive, more conscious of their role, more respected.”

All this looks very promising, but of course, many have expressed doubts as to whether these ideals will be realized. Mary Akrami, head of the Afghan Women’s Skills Development Centre, welcomes the sentiments expressed by the President, but hopes that they will be followed by “concrete action.”

That hope is shared by the team here at Barakat. As an organization built upon the idea that education is a fundamental human right and should be available to all, particularly to girls and women, Barakat is excited to see the impact First Lady Rula Ghani and President Ghani can make on gender equality in Afghanistan!