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Welcome Sapida, Sahar’s Newest Afghan Fellow!

Sahar Welcomes Sapida Barmaki as the 2019-2020 Sahar Afghan Fellow!

Sapida Barmaki graduated from Montclair State University in May 2019 with a double major in Political Science and Law and Jurisprudence and a minor in Public Administration. She was awarded the Dean’s List and has done two independent research projects under her department faculty supervision. 

Sapida visited her family every summer during her bachelor’s degree. In the summers of 2016 and 2018, she worked with Sahar in the Mazar-e-Sharif Office. She has worked on the Early Marriage Prevention Program, Teacher Training Center, and Digital Literacy Classes. She is originally from Mazar-e-Sharif and is much aware of the issues women and children face in the city and rural areas.

Sapida likes photography, hiking, whitewater rafting, dancing, and reading in her free time. She also likes to volunteer in her community for social causes and in development projects. During high school, she volunteered in the Rishad Education Center to teach minority children to get back to school, a six months project in Mazar. She is an advocate of women and children’s rights and devotes her time to it.

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Matching Grant Opportunity with One Day’s Wages

We have exciting news! We have the opportunity to receive a $15,0000 matching grant from One Day’s Wages for our Early Marriage Prevention Program! Donate today to double your impact and help us reach our fundraising goal!

In Afghanistan 34% of women currently 20-24 years old were married before the age of 18. This means that 34% of young women in Afghanistan were torn away from their education too soon, an opportunity we in the United States take for granted. Human rights and especially women’s rights are under siege across borders. Preventing childhood marriage stems the tide of gender violence and increases girls education for countless girls globally.

Four years ago, Sahar took a leap and designed and implemented the first in class Early Marriage Prevention Program. The goal of this program is simple: to keep girls in school and out of marriage. All over the world, women and allies must fight to ensure that every girl has the opportunity for education.

Join our Afghan and US team today and donate to our match opportunity by clicking on the link below. Every dollar you give will be matched and helps ensure our program to prevent early marriage continues to deliver life saving curriculums in Northern Afghanistan.

Click here and double your impact!

Thank you for your support!

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Education as the Counterbalance to War and Despair

Education as the Counterbalance to War and Despair: by Executive Director Ginna Brelsford and Afghan Fellow Shogofa Amini

You’ve no doubt heard and read about the US negotiations with the Taliban and wondered how, if at all, Sahar’s programs in Afghanistan are affected. The immediate answer is not at all. Our all Afghan team continues to do an incredible job working in our programs.

We are not naive about the challenges ahead. If and when the US troops depart, we have a talented Afghan team that will stay and continue our programs. Our strength is our Afghan staff. They are committed to Sahar’s goals and are here to stay.

Our team believes that the Afghan people are eager to learn and take responsibility in their communities. After serving over 250,000 girls in Afghanistan over 18 years, Sahar has restored the paths to education that the Taliban stole. This new generation of women is educated about their rights and deserves to take these ideas into the future.

If Afghanistan is to have a future of peace and prosperity, women must be included in peace and policy making. This can only happen if women are educated. We will continue to work with community and religious leaders, girls in school, teachers, and parents to heal decades of emotional trauma. We educate girls about their rights and communities about the value of girls and educated and empowered women.

Sahar is in Afghanistan to stay. Our next step to expand education throughout Afghan communities is to build the first ever all-girls public boarding school in Afghanistan. The boarding school will provide opportunities for rural girls who have limited access to education, girls who have to study under tents in extreme weather conditions and who become discouraged because of these conditions. Our new boarding school will allow disadvantaged girls to grow academically and build their leadership skills in a beautiful, safe, and encouraging environment.

We must give girls opportunity today for they are the leaders of the future of Afghanistan. Sahar knows this firsthand from educating 23,000 girls every year. Ask yourself: what is your hope for girls of Afghanistan and what can you do to contribute to that hopeful vision?

Join Sahar in continuing to educate Afghan girls. Donate today.

Image rendering of the library in the boarding school

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. $1 US Dollar has 50 times the value in Afghanistan.

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GiveBIG 2019!

GiveBIG 2019 is May 8th– and Sahar needs YOUR help!

GiveBIG is a one-day online giving event to raise funds for nonprofit organizations in Greater Seattle. It’s the opportunity for us all to come together and make the world a better place.

This year, we’ve set our goal to fundraise $3,500 to support education for girls in Afghanistan. Please help us reach our goal by donating $50.00 or more on our GiveBIG page, and by asking your family and friends to donate too!

Worried you may forget? Schedule your donation to secure your support!

Hear from Fresta, one of the instructors of our successful Early Marriage Prevention Program on the importance of empowering girls in Afghanistan through education:
“I am faced with powerful and brilliant girls who have big ambitions. However, they do not know how to problem-solve the issues they confront. Now they are learning to meet the challenges in their life– they keep defending their rights and fighting for gender equality. Working with EMPP girls makes me feel great.” 

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Join our Board of Directors!

Sahar is seeking new Board Members!

Is it you? Sahar Board Members will have the privilege of working collaboratively with our US and Afghan team, creating programs and building schools that truly change lives. The board provides strategic direction and oversight to our well-established non-profit, ensuring we are the best stewards possible for our supporters and the people of Afghanistan.

If you or someone you know:

  • Is passionate about access to education and is excited about creating opportunities for girls, women, and families in Afghanistan.
  • Communicates well and are able to build awareness of Sahar
  • Wants to be a part of a dynamic board and have the time and energy to spend 5-8 hours a month doing board work
  • Is interested in building partnerships for Sahar to expand its local and global network.

Check out our Sahar Board Opportunity Announcement for more information.

Interested in joining us? Sahar is seeking to bring on new board members to serve three-year terms beginning September 2019. Please email boardrecruitment@sahareducation.org with any questions and to receive the short online application. Interested candidates must complete an application by June 10, 2019, and will be interviewed by our recruiting team.

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Check out the Asia Foundation’s 2018 Survey of the Afghan People

The Asia Foundation’s Afghanistan in 2018: A Survey of the Afghan People is out! With the largest sampling of the Afghan population to date, this survey helps recenter and understand what is most important to Afghan citizens in their everyday lives.

Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, Afghanistan has made significant progress in women’s rights and education. The findings of The Survey reflect that progress in the opinions of Afghan citizens. However, The Survey also speaks to how far the country has to go to ensure women’s equality and access to education: most people surveyed do not support women working outside of the home, equal opportunity for girls and women in education, or the right for a women to decide who to vote for for herself.

And yet, according to this survey, people’s opinions are changing. Baad and badaal practices (traditional practices connected to forced and early marriage) are at their lowest approval rating ever. More women report contributing to their household income than in previous years. And despite serious threats of violence, 38% of females voted in the most recent presidential election.

Afghanistan may have a long way to go to achieve gender equality generally and in education, but progress has been made and progress will continue. Sahar’s programs, such as Early Marriage Prevention, digital literacy, and female teacher training, are perfect examples of this progress. The girls we serve crave these programs and as we grow in response, the community’s acceptance of our programs and girls’ empowerment grows as well.

We are proud to do this work. Thank you for your support in educating the future women of Afghanistan!

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Shout out to Zohra Orchestra: the Afghan all female youth orchestra performing internationally!

Shout out to the first female Afghan orchestra currently touring Europe! The Zohra orchestra, comprised of young women aged 12-22 from the Afghan National Institute of Music (ANIM), performed at the British Museum on Friday, March 15.

Zohra is led by 22 year old conductor Negin Khpalwak
Photo Credit: ANIM

This inspirational group of young women is a clear example of the power that music and education has in transforming and empowering the lives of girls. ANIM is an institute that primarily works with underserved youth; 70% of the students come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Empowering youth through music, especially in Afghanistan, where during the Taliban rule education for girls was strictly and violently prohibited, is a courageous and inspiring avenue for social change. We congratulate these girls for their success and for showing the world the potential and power of Afghan girls!

As the director of Zohra, Dr Ahmad Sarmast, states, “Zohra creates a lovely sound but also it’s a symbol of the freedom of Afghan women. This is the message we take around the world.” We at Sahar acknowledge and support the amazing impact that ANIM makes for girls.

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Sahar highlighted in Global Washington’s Issue Briefing: What Will it Take to End Child Marriage?

Check out Sahar’s mention in Global Washington’s March Newsletter! In honor of International Women’s Day, Global Washington’s March issue brief features the current state of early marriage throughout the world and the negative outcomes– especially on the child brides– of the practice. The brief states:

“Child marriage is a violation of international human rights law. Yet around the world, about 650 million of the women and girls alive today were married before their 18th birthday, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). By 2030, it’s estimated that more than 150 million girls will become child brides.”

In Afghanistan, 57% of girls are married before the legal age of 16. Our Early Marriage Prevention Program inspires girls to continue their education and empowers them to become leaders in their community. It also equips them to advocate for themselves by increasing their knowledge of potential educational opportunities and an understanding of their legal rights. Each year, Sahar reaches 500 girls directly, and more than 2,000 community members. Click here for more information on our program!

We are honored to be featured for our work in our Early Marriage Prevention Program and appreciate Global Washington for highlighting this important worldwide issue!

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Farewell Qxhna and Welcome Sophie!

Sahar is sorry to say goodbye to Qxhna Titcomb, Operations and Campaign Manager for Sahar since 2017. Qxhna has been an integral part of the Sahar team these past two years and we are so thankful for her amazing support and dedication to Sahar’s work providing education and opportunity to girls in Afghanistan. As she moves forward we thank her for all of her hard work and wish her luck in her future endeavors!

On the same note, we are happy to introduce Sophie Allen, our new addition to the Sahar team in the Operations and Campaign Manager role. In her studies Sophie focused on women’s rights globally and had the opportunity to intern in Cape Town, South Africa at a domestic violence organization. Through her studies and personal experience, Sophie became passionate about feminism globally and her local community. She is particularly committed to the importance of education for girls and women and the opportunities education brings to women and their communities. She is excited to be part of the Sahar team and contribute to the positive impact Sahar has on girls and communities in Afghanistan. 

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Successful Event: “Overcoming the Trauma of War and Displacement” with Medical Teams International

Sahar was invited by Medical Teams International to join a panel about the topic of mental health and trauma as it relates to women in war and refugee crises. This event was connected to the Medical Teams International series “Healthy Women, Healthy World,” a program designed to connect like-minded people in Seattle and Portland to the health challenges that women face worldwide.

Our Executive Director Ginna Brelsford and Afghan Fellow Shogofa Amini spoke on the context of Afghanistan, the structure of Sahar’s programs, the creation of our Early Marriage Prevention Program, the addition of a module on mental health in our curriculum specifically, and the benefits of opening conversation on the topic of mental health and trauma in Afghanistan. Hear from our students below:

Kelly Kirk, a Program Support Officer for Medical Teams International Field Operations also shared the context of trauma for Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Women refugees from war zones often face a range of stress factors that are experienced by no other population. The audience learned that there are remarkable similarities between the impact of war on Syrian women in Lebanon and the context of daily life for Afghan women. The synergy between the work of both organizations made for a engaging program.

Thank you Medical Teams International for hosting! We appreciate all of the fantastic questions from the audience and the opportunity to talk about this important issue.