In 2017, after careful talk and negotiation, CAI was presented with the opportunity to create more educational opportunities to Diamer District, an incredibly conservative area in Pakistan. In this region 72 percent of children age three to 16 are out of school, with girls representing the majority of that number. For decades outside groups have attempted to bring education to this region, but the concerned mullahs (religious leaders), were cautious of these foreign groups, many of which tried to start programs without talking with them or getting their approval.
During this festive time of the year the sweet smell of seasonal treats and the taste of traditional holiday foods connect us with familiar memories of family and culture. Hanukkah has just begun and many people are sharing potato latkes and sufganiyot(jelly donuts) or sitting down to meals of savory Brisket. People who celebrate Christmas are enjoying traditions from many cultures including specialty cookies, cakes, and puddings that hail as much from ancestral regions as they do family tradition. In many of the countries where CAI works, food plays an important cultural role during holidays, and nowhere is this more apparent than Afghanistan. Afghan food plays a central role in culture, gatherings, and holidays.
In northern Afghanistan most schools don’t have computers. Teachers and administrators must keep track of grades, attendance, and lessons by hand. It’s not always lack of access to computers that’s holding these teachers back, but a lack of computer skills training and understanding of this new technology that keeps them isolated.
There is a saying in Afghanistan, “Women should stay home or in the grave.” This sentiment is a remnant of the Taliban-era, when women could be whipped in public for baring their ankles, lose a finger for painting their nails, or be thrown down a flight of stairs for hosting an informal school in their homes.
Suddenly it’s November. Snow is falling gently outside the window at CAI, and this year’s Journey of Hope magazine is at the printer ready to display a year’s worth of progress, challenge, and hope in its glossy pages. Gift-giving season has snuck up on us once again, and this year CAI is trying something new, a gift catalogue with a variety of charitable choices that make a meaningful gift for friends and family. Each gift in the catalogue goes directly to programs overseas, so you can be sure your donation gifts are doing the most good.
Educating girls in developing countries has been the focal point of NGOs and charity organizations for many years. The UN highlighted girls’ education in both the 2000 Millennium Development Goals and the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals. While these goals include educating boys too, they call out the disparity in gender specifically. CAI also singles out girls’ education as an important focus in our mission, noting that girls face higher social and economic barriers to education than boys in the countries where we work.
In the eastern provinces of Afghanistan, where agriculture is still the main source of income, semi-nomadic Kuchi tribes still move with the seasons, following ancient cultural traditions. In the past these tribes roamed across the region in search of grazing grounds for their herds of sheep and camels, but government borders, private land, and changing climate have drastically reduced the number of people who still travel, and the places they can go.
Last spring CAI supporters met Hareem, a young woman with a dream of being a pharmacist and a strong determination to achieve that dream despite poverty, family tragedy, and difficulty accessing education. Hareem was a featured scholarship student during the 2016 summer campaign. Read an update to her story to see how her determination continues to push her toward her goal, despite unexpected hardships.
Most of the media reports on Afghanistan and Pakistan revolve around military strategy and the ongoing battles against militant groups. However, there are many more issues and initiatives that are taking place to help the people of these countries receive the tools they need to heal and grow their countries. CAI decided to bring these solutions to light during our event in Washington D.C. on September 21, 2017.
Earlier this year, we put out a plea for help to repair damaged and crumbling schools and build two new structures for students crammed into small homes or studying in the open air. Hundreds of people from across the country and even across the world came together and pitched in to make sure students in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan have a safe space to learn.