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Following is an update from a grassroots activist at Promoting Women Capabilities by Education in Afghanistan about their revolutionary educational center. LEARN more about the center’s program, VIEW a recent photo blog, and READ about their 2016 Rise for Revolution event:

Another academic year at our education center in Kabul, Afghanistan has successfully come to an end on 14th February 2017 and the new academic year (2017) has been started.

The year 2016, like previous years, saw huge numbers of girls and women swarm our center, thirsty for education and learning. We were able to admit 350 students at the beginning of the year in different courses of literacy, sciences, English and computer.

Our science classes are very popular among students graduating from pubic schools. These classes are vital for the girls who face a lot of difficulties in preparing for their university entrance examination (konkur examination) due to lack of good and high quality education in public schools from one side and expensive private courses outside schools from the other side. Their poor families cannot afford for private courses so they can prepare themselves for the university entrance examination. Girls are generally discriminated and any investment in education for those who can afford it is made for the boys’ education, leaving the girls with no assistance in preparing for their universities.

Our girls have completed the preparation course this year and are confidently prepared for their university entrance examinations. Now they, hopefully, can choose their faculty of choice so they can pursue their dreams.

Women in our literacy courses attended their classes passionately despite having children and house jobs. Now they are able to read and write and do simple math. Their general knowledge has increased, making them more aware of the happening around them. Now they can handle many activities that they were not able to do before. For example when they can read signboards, billboards, shop boards and simple instruction in clinics, hospitals, etc. they feel proud and self-confident. More importantly that now they can read for examples brochures that are related to violence, women rights, children rights, legal assistance, etc.

The yearly syllabus of English and computer classes were successfully completed.

There were several seminars held in our center to address some very important topics. Not only our students participated actively but brought along other family members to attend as well. Due to the lack of awareness, these seminars have proved helpful for many women inside and outside the course.

Topics discussed included women’s rights, domestic violence, women’s legal rights, mental issues women face that force them to commit suicide and self-immolation, education on raising and nurturing children, gynecological health, suicide attacks, etc.

These seminars were very attractive to these women who participated enthusiastically and engaged in-group discussions. Psychiatrists, gynecologists, psychologists, lawyers were invited weekly to spoke about these topics and got interesting questions from the participants.

On 14th Feb. 2017 we proudly graduated another batch of our students.

We want to extend our grateful thanks to OBR, V-Day and all our donors who contributed to this project from the bottom of our hearts. This thanks and gratitude comes not just from us, but also from the families of our students who express their happiness and appreciation for this free center every time they come here.

The center has changed the future of these girls as they could/can attend faculties of their choice, and read and write something they would not have possibly done without this center.

A woman from literacy course happily told me: “I am so happy. Your course made me literate. The course opened my eyes. Now I can read my daughter’s medical prescription and the direction”. And this is not limited to those who attended the courses. Fortunately a number of them spread their newfound knowledge to their surrounding area. Many women help their neighbors. Another example of change brought about by our seminars is extremely important. Now many women have become enlightened on extremism and religious ignorance. Many of them refrain to send their children to madrasas where extremism is encouraged and in some of them boys are brainwashed and trained to become suicide bombers. A number of women told us that the seminars on this topic changed their mindset greatly. This is really a big achievement for a society that is greatly infested by the germ of extremism and religio-politics.

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One Billion Rising in Kabul: Our students RISING

As part of One Billion Rising, the students of our educational center held a function in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Girls read their own poems, short articles and narrate their stories. The poems and articles described the hellish situation of Afghan women, and the remedy for all their sufferings and pain, i.e. education.

Women, mostly from the literacy course, gave accounts of their own sufferings at the hands of their own family members, husbands, and in-laws. They described how the beatings, abuse, poverty, and other cruelties they faced, motivated them to enroll in this center and work hard to graduate and join schools. Khadija, one speaker, composed her sufferings into a beautiful poem, and delivered it emotionally.

The girls also prepared a couple of songs, calling on women to realize their incredible strength and rise against those who oppress them. A display of clothes was also organized, as girls dressed – both as male and female – in traditional Afghani clothes of all ethnic backgrounds, sending a strong message of unity in a country severely divided on those lines.

The highlight of the afternoon was the distribution of gifts for the high achievers, and certificates to all the students graduating this year from the literacy, science, computer, and English classes. The students, especially the women from the literacy course, became very emotional as they bade farewell to the center that taught them for a year. They thanked the staff and donors profusely, stating that their lives have changed forever.

The function was ended with attan, the traditional Afghani dance. Tea was served for the guests as they sat chatting with their teachers, discussing their future goals and promising to bring their other family members to the center in the upcoming academic session.

The function brought us great joy as we saw the thirst these girls have for getting an education. All they need are opportunities like this center. We cannot describe how grateful we are to have wonderful donors who let us run this center and provide free education to the women of Afghanistan. The function, with its incredible energy, was a reminder of how much we need such centers in Afghanistan

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