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Voices of Hope: A Young Girl's Story
This month, the Bush Institute is proud to celebrate the release of We Are Afghan Women: Voices of Hope. With an introduction by Mrs. Laura Bush, the book highlights the stories of extraordinarily resilient women and their struggles, successes, and resolve in present-day Afghanistan.
To coincide with the book launch, the Bush Institute’s Women’s Initiative will spotlight organizations and individuals who are doing important work in Afghanistan through a “Voices of Hope” blog series over the next several weeks.
As Mrs. Bush has said, “It is important for those of us around the world, both women and men, to stop and listen to Afghanistan’s women. By listening, we also have a chance to learn.”
Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, one of the Afghan women featured in the new book, We Are Afghan Women: Voices of Hope, participated in a discussion with Mrs. Bush hosted by Politico in Washington, D.C this week. Dr. Yacoobi started 80 underground schools for girls inside Afghanistan during Taliban control. Today, she is the founder and CEO of the Afghan Institute of Learning, one of the largest Afghan nongovernmental organizations.
Below, she shares a “voice of hope” from a young Afghan girl named Fatima.
Fatima was brought to the Girls Orphanage in Herat by relatives when she was eight years old. Both of Fatima’s parents had died and she had no brothers or sisters. When she arrived, she was devastated by the loss of her family and was very unhappy, but she settled into life at the orphanage and went to school. When the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) began working with the Girls Orphanage and set up a Learning Center offering computer and tailoring classes in the afternoon, Fatima was quick to join the classes.
Fatima is now studying at an eighth grade level and has excellent computer and tailoring skills. She works for a small NGO in Herat teaching other students tailoring and computer work. They are paying her so she has begun to earn money for herself. All of this has transformed Fatima; her self confidence is high and she has a hopeful view of life. She is happy, always helping younger students with their homework, and is looking forward to finishing high school. Fatima wants to go on to university and become a teacher.
AIL has reached 12.5 million Afghan women and children since 1995, providing education to over 21,000 students each year through its innovative Learning Center program. Subjects taught range from literacy, math and English to computers and other income-generating skills like sewing, carpet weaving and traditional crafts.
AIL works holistically to treat the whole person and circumstance. It provides quality training to teachers and provides training to others in society on topics such as democracy, health, human rights and elections. AIL provides health education and health services to 228,000 people each year. Healthy people can improve their lives through being productive at their work and gaining education. AIL’s combination of education, health and quality training is what creates sustained change in families, communities and Afghan society as a whole.
For more information, visit www.afghaninstituteoflearning.org.
Q&A with Dr. Nilofar Ibrahimi, Member of Parliament, Afghanistan
Dr. Nilofar Ibrahimi is a member of the national assembly of Afghanistan. She represents Badakhshan province in the Wolesi Jirga (house of representatives). Her story is one of survival, pursuit of dreams, and dedication to women’s well-being and health. Here, Dr. Ibrahimi shares her thoughts on the current state of Afghan women’s empowerment, the challenges women face in achieving equal rights, and the impact women have on the country’s long-term peace, security, and prosperity.
Global Leadership: A Look Back At 2017
As we celebrate 2017, we reflect on some of the top moments from the Bush Institute's Global Leadership Impact Center, home to the Human Freedom initiative, Women's Initiative, and Global Health initiative.
In Case You Missed It: The Breadwinner, an animated film about the strength and resilience of Afghan women and girls, premieres in the U.S.
The Breadwinner, a new animated film from executive producer Angelina Jolie, tells the story of Parvana, an 11-year-old girl growing up under the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001. When her father is wrongfully arrested, Parvana disguises herself as a boy in order to support her family. With dauntless perseverance, Parvana draws strength from the stories her father told her, and ultimately risks her life to discover if he is still alive. The Breadwinner is an inspiring reminder of the power of stories, and their potential to unite and heal us all. It also provides an important spotlight on the struggle endured by Afghan families during the Taliban regime and the resilience of women and girls and their influence in building a brighter future for Afghanistan. Last year, the Bush Institute released We Are Afghan Women: Voices of Hope, which spotlights more of these courageous stories of Afghan women. Learn more about the book and our work by visiting:&nb