Looking ahead to Thursday’s “Inspire” Transformative Thinking session, we’d like to share a special story from speaker Dr. Sakena Yacoobi. The first in her family to go to school, Sakena Yacoobi became the first woman from Herat to attend university in the United States. After finishing a Masters in Public Health, she wanted to return to Afghanistan but her country was in the hands of the Russians and in the midst of war.
More than half of her people were refugees – including her own family. She returned to Pakistan so she could work with her people who had fled to the refugee camps there. Upon arrival she opened schools for 300 girls – by the end of that year, the schools were serving 15,000 girls. In founding the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL), she has helped provide education, health, and teacher training to women. When the Taliban forbade girls to go to school in Afghanistan, AIL supported 80 underground home schools for girls.
As of today, AIL has served more than 7.7 million Afghan women and children.
Here is the story she would like to share with you, and hopes you will pass on to others.
Maryam graduated from her tailoring class at one of AIL’s rural centers just before she was married. After her wedding ceremony, she moved to another village. Not knowing anyone, she began sewing for her husband’s family. When the other village women saw her creations, they began asking her to sew dresses for them.
Soon she had a thriving business. Some of the village women asked Maryam to teach them to sew. Mariam thought of opening a center. When she asked her husband’s family about this, they ignored her requests and let her know that she was causing trouble.
Then many of the village women, including relatives of her in-laws, approached Maryam’s family and asked if she couldn’t please teach them to sew. Not wanting to offend them, Maryam’s in-laws gave her permission to open a center in one of the rooms of their house. Maryam collected a small fee from each of her students.
Maryam now has 40 students in her center and the fees she collects are helping to improve the economic situation of her family. She is respected in the community and her family is proud of her. Recently, when she returned to her own village, she came to the AIL center to visit and she told them her story and thanked AIL for giving her the opportunity to be such a useful person in her community.
If you would like to help, here’s what you can do:
Contact Creating Hope International, the Afghan Institute of Learning’s partner in the United States, with your requests for proposals or how to donate.
Download the PDF version of Dr. Yaccobi’s message.
The 2010 ATWS Transformative Thinking session featuring Dr. Yacoobi will take place on Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 4:00 pm in the Auditorium.