Afghan Institute of Learning AIL – Creating Hope International CHI

Linked to our presentation of Sakena Lida Yacoobi on December 24, 2005.

AIL Afghan Institute of Learning is committed to bringing peace and dignity to Afghan people as they struggle to overcome oppression, devastation, and injustice wrought by the last quarter century of war and instability.

Discussing Afghan Women Group

AIL’s internationally recognized work is improving the health and education of Afghan women and children, relieving their suffering after three decades of war and civil strife, and enhancing the quality of their lives.

Since it is a non-governmental organization, AIL does not attempt to influence legislation nor does it recommend or work for the election of candidates for political office. In choosing the programs that it implements, AIL strives to assist women who are supporting their families.

CHI Creating Hope International’s mission is to provide education and health assistance to the people in the world with the greatest needs. CHI works at the grass roots level, responding to community needs, fostering community participation, and empowering people through culturally sensitive education and training. Creating Hope International is a Michigan based non-profit organization with 501(c)3 status. CHI was founded in 1982 and was incorporated as a Michigan non-profit corporation in April 1996.

The Afghan Institute of Learning
(AIL) is an Afghan women’s non-governmental organisation (NGO) which was founded in 1995 in Pakistan to assist Afghan women and children. AIL believes that educated people are the key to a future, developed Afghanistan.

A fresh breath of life: “Society, while willing to make room for women, is not willing to make changes for them” – this quote of Shirley Williams seems to be reflected through many incidents of the world. Any change in the normal set up in respect of society or policy, mostly affects the life of women irrespective of their direct involvement in that matter. The crisis in development of women during the political crisis of Afghanistan for past several years have raised this issue once again. After years of war, the literacy rate of Afghan females is among the lowest in the world. Afghan women had no opportunity to learn because of war and the brutal Taliban regime. Older girls were prevented from attending school, women were forced to stop their schooling and to marry at their young age. But their will to learn never died despite the depressing phase of so many years. To encourage their will and to get them back to the normal track of life, the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) initiated Women’s Learning Centres (WLCs).

Motto of AIL: The Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) of Afghan women, which was founded in 1995 in Pakistan by Professor Sakena Yacoobi to assist Afghan women and children. The Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) was the first NGO to start Women’s Learning Centres (WLCs) in refugee camps in Pakistan in 2002. Requested by the women in the camps, the WLCs are designed to meet the multiple needs of Afghan women and children. WLCs train teachers, provide health care and health education, and offer preschool education through university classes. Workshops that train women to lead and to advocate for their basic human rights are offered in the WLCs. Women also learn income generating skills like sewing and carpet weaving. WLCs offer women and girls fast track classes that allow them to study on an accelerated basis to complete grade certificates, learn subjects like English and computer skill in enrichment classes, and/or learn basic reading, writing, and arithmetic. Some younger girls study in fast track programmes, complete grade certificates within a few months, and mainstream into public school at a grade level, appropriate for their ages.

AIL believes that educated people are the key to a future, developed Afghanistan. With that in mind, AIL works to empower all Afghans who are needy and oppressed by expanding their educational and health opportunities and by fostering self-reliance and community participation. AIL’s goals are to lay a foundation for quality education and health for years to come and to provide comprehensive education and health services to Afghan women and children, so that they can support and take care of themselves. AIL seeks to achieve its goals by providing education and health programmes, training the leaders of the education and health programmes and working with the communities it serves. AIL believes that, one day, Afghans will be able to completely support all of their education and health needs by utilising these strategies.

Community participation: AIL uses consensus decision-making processes and encourages community participation in all of its programmes, which is very unique in Afghanistan. AIL is an excellent model of these principles and the organisation’s commitment to community participation and consensus are two of the reasons that it has been so successful, especially when implementing new programmes in conservative, hard-to-reach communities. AIL works with community leaders in the planning, developing and implementation of all projects. No project is started unless the community has requested it and is involved in it. Utilising this visionary strategy, communities now contribute 30 percent to 50 percent of the resources needed for a project. These community contributions have come in many forms, including donated space, materials, supplies, and assistance with security. These contributions have strengthened the communities’ involvement in and ownership of AIL programmes. AIL will continue to strengthen community contributions to and ownership of programmes as a part of ongoing efforts towards sustainability. (Read the rest on i4d.

WLP and Afghan Institute of Learning Convene Institute for Women’s Leadership in Kabul: WLP and its Afghan partner the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) convened the Afghan Roaming Institute for Women’s Leadership and Training of Trainers from April 9-13, 2004 in Kabul, Afghanistan. AIL provides educational programs in health, human rights, leadership, and literacy for Afghan women and girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s refugee camps. The Institute was the product of joint efforts between WLP and AIL to counteract severe political and social discrimination facing women in Afghanistan by helping them gain skills to be more effective advocates for women’s rights, social justice, and equal participation in decision-making.

Twenty-nine women and one man from five Afghan provinces and Peshawar, Pakistan took part in the five-day Institute. Participants included representatives from local NGOs and officials from the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Ministry of Education. The goal of the Institute was to provide training in personal leadership development, facilitation skills, communication techniques, and the development of media and advocacy campaigns. The Institute was a forum for activists and leaders facing similar political, socio-economic, and cultural conditions to exchange experiences, information, and knowledge and to discuss ways to empower Afghan women to participate in decision-making at all levels of society. The draft Persian edition of WLP’s multimedia training materials, Leading to Choices: A Multimedia Curriculum for Leadership Learning served as the primary curriculum during the Institute.

On the first day of the training, the group formed four teams to discuss characteristics and ethics of effective and principled leadership. The group collectively identified transparency, accountability, and power-sharing as necessary qualities of good leaders. At the beginning of the discussion, participants said they did not believe women had the same skill capacities as men to excel in management, negotiation, or leadership or the ability to serve as judges, merchants, or members of the military. On the second day, however, this perception shifted dramatically as the group worked together and shared their own leadership and empowerment stories and the stories of other women they had known. Several participants were repatriated Afghan refugees who had lived in refugee camps in Iran and Pakistan during the Taliban regime. They shared stories of how they learned negotiation and flexibility through their experience of working with government representatives and UN agencies in the camps. Other participants, who had stayed in Afghanistan during the Taliban rule, developed endurance and survival skills amidst the widespread violence and crumbling infrastructure. The participants’ varied experiences enriched the sessions as they applied their learning to the various leadership exercises. By the end of the second day, all the participants were able to recognize qualities of effective leadership within themselves. On day three of the Institute, participants engaged in lessons and activities on interactive facilitation and effective communication. After breaking into three teams, participants discussed the importance of active listening, observation, imagination, and sharing of experiences. Each participant also developed a personal vision statement, then worked with the group to form a collective vision statement about their hopes for peace, equality, and prosperity in Afghanistan. (Read the rest of this article on WLP).

CHI Creating Hope International works to raise the educational, health, social and economic levels of people throughout the world who are in need, particularly women and children, Provide learning opportunities for underprivileged people, assistance to relieve their suffering, and resources to enable them to improve their lives, Assist distressed communities in developing and sustaining education and health Programs to meet their needs and re-build their communities, Foster and promote world-wide concern for oppressed people throughout the world.

CHI focuses primarily on providing technical and financial assistance to those in need, with the goal of empowering the recipients to ultimately be able to meet their own needs. In the past, CHI has been involved in such projects as providing technical assistance and training to Mexican villagers in building latrines, as well as public, maternal, and child health services. .

This by Training teachers in Pakistan and Afghanistan, Raising funds to support refugees in Iran and Pakistan, Raising funds to support girls schools in refugee camps in Pakistan, Teaching Tibetan community leaders in India to write grant proposals to raise money for building projects, including a medical clinic, a drinking water well, and scholarships for children, Designing and providing educational materials for teacher trainers

Organization: CHI is run by a six-member Board of Directors. They are: Betsy Amin-Arsala, Dr. Parvin Boroumand, Toc Dunlap, Annette Vitale-Salajanu, Sakena Lida Yacoobi, Dr. Janet Yamamoto.

The two officers of CHI, Sakena Lida Yacoobi, MPH and Toc Dunlap, Esq., have been working with educational projects, and specifically Afghan educational projects, for over 35 years. These two officers are responsible for the administrative and project work of CHI, and coordinate all projects and fund-raising.

CHI depends extensively on our countless volunteers here in the United States, as well as those involved abroad. These volunteers are responsible for many of the important accomplishments of CHI, and we are grateful for their continued efforts with administrative work, training, proposal writing and fund-raising.


American Jewish World Service;

ZONTA International;


Bill Graham Award

Peter Gruber Foundation;

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