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Our Response to COVID-19

This week Afghan students return to the classroom after more than six months out of school because of COVID-19. For us at Sahar, this back-to-school season marks the beginning of a new phase of COVID-19 response.

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education first closed schools in March 2020. Since then, through the work of our implementing field partner, we began operating our programs remotely via WhatsApp. Our Men as Partners in Change Program and Early Marriage Prevention Program delivered course-specific training while also sharing information about how students could keep themselves, their families, their communities safe in light of the pandemic. In addition to adopting a remote model of programming, we also distributed care packages with COVID-19 necessities like hand soap and face masks to students and local community members. Responding to the immediate needs of the community was important because many of the communities we serve do not have access to the resources necessary to respond to the pandemic.

As schools reopen, we continue to reach the girls we work with by phone, WhatsApp groups, and peer-to-peer contact. The teachers involved in our programs are working with school administrators to ensure the healthy and safe return of girls to school. Through our MPC program, we have access to mosque leaders, community leaders, fathers, and boys in schools, all of whom we are encouraging to send their daughters and sisters back to school. Sahar’s field officers are resuming our programs cautiously and keeping girls’ health a priority.

Looking forward, addressing gender inequality is fundamental to recovering from the pandemic. In Afghanistan, there is a high likelihood that many girls will not return to school after missing almost half the year. There are also growing concerns that girls are at a higher risk of early marriage due to their families’ financial struggles. These challenges make continuing our gender-responsive work all the more important. COVID-19 has and continues to deepen existing gender inequalities and, as an organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities for girls, we must work to ensure that the future looks bright for Afghan girls despite the pandemic.

Although addressing gender disparities is a definitive challenge of COVID-19 response, it is also an opportunity. If our work has shown us anything, it is that girls are an invaluable resource to their families, communities, and countries. By promoting the right of girls to receive an education (even and especially within a pandemic), we are promoting the development of a peaceful and resilient Afghanistan.

Donate to support our work and make sure students and teachers can return safely to their classrooms.

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Farewell Sophie and Welcome Isabelle!

Sahar is sad to bid farewell to Sophie Allen, our Operations and Campaign Manager since 2019. Sophie has been an important part of the Sahar team, and we will miss her greatly. Sahar wishes Sophie the very best as she moves on to graduate school. We also extend our most sincere thanks for her hard work and the impact she has had on our partner communities in Afghanistan.

As of June 2019, Isabelle Shively will continue Sophie’s work in the capacity of Operations and Campaign Manager. Before joining Sahar, Isabelle worked with a humanitarian organization responding to the needs of forcibly displaced people. Her work taught her the power of access to quality education, especially for women and young girls. Isabelle is excited to be part of the Sahar team and make a difference in the lives of Afghan girls and communities.

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Sahar Awarded International Foundation Grant!

We are so excited to share that we have been awarded a grant from the International Foundation Grant to help fund our Men as Partners in Change Program! We are so grateful for the opportunity to continue working with the male members of the communities in semi-urban communities throughout Balkh Province.

Hear from a graduate of our successful pilot program about the positive impact the program had on his life.

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Our 2020-2021 Impact Report!

We are thrilled to announce the publication of the Sahar 2020-2021 Impact Report! We all have a role to play in gender equality, and since our inception in 2001, Sahar staff, supporters, and volunteers have been dedicated to the empowerment of girls, their families, and communities through education. The last year has been another fantastic period of growth and achievement, as we evaluated our existing projects and added a revolutionary Men as Partners in Change Program, to understand what truly works best as well as seeking to expand our reach even further.

Sahar is committed to continue our work in Afghanistan, despite the uncertainty of the times. Our work on the ground continues to be led by Afghan women and responsive to the needs of the community. We hope that you’ll enjoy learning more about our programs and what we have accomplished. Our goal is to portray the progress we are making and the hope we have for the future.

Of course, none of our work would be possible without the generous Sahar supporters who contribute vital funding, expertise, pro bono services and mentoring support. Thank you for helping us take another step towards a world where Afghan girls have equal access to education.

SaharImpactReport2020-2021

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Apply for Sahar’s 2020-2021 Afghan Fellowship!

Sahar’s Afghan Enrichment And Fellowship Program

Sahar’s year long Enrichment and Fellowship Program accepts applicants who have Afghan background and family heritage. The ideal candidate will bring excellent research and writing, public speaking and presentation, fundraising, curriculum development, and communication skills. A strong aptitude for organization is required. Non-profit experience and technical skills are a plus.

If your answer is yes to the following question then Sahar is looking for you!

  1. Are you passionate about girls education in Afghanistan?
  2. Do you know about Afghan culture, history, and people?
  3. Are you driven to bring positive changes to girls life in Afghanistan?
  4. Do you love networking and public speaking?

“The most rewarding part of my job is that I get a chance to contribute in bringing positive changes in the lives of girls and work towards girls empowerment.” -Sapida, Current Afghan Fellow

Past Afghan Fellows and Sahar Board members

The Opportunity:

This 40 hrs/week position offers flexibility in a growing organization with high impact in the international arena. Sahar provides a small, entrepreneurial environment that has lots of room for making a contribution while learning about organizational development, non-profit management and girls’ empowerment. 

This opportunity is  a great stepping stone for individuals who are starting out in their career, due to its versatility. “The Fellow will assist with program evaluation work and writing blog posts to give cultural context to Sahar’s work, raise awareness about Afghanistan, girls’ and women’s issues and the beneficiaries of Sahar’s programs. The Fellow will provide content expertise and input for newsletters, assist with grant writing and reporting – particularly in our Early Marriage Prevention Program, Digital Literacy programs, Teacher Training and input design work on a girls’ boarding school.

The Fellow will be responsible for speaking at events and to board members and working with schoolchildren to raise awareness about critical issues in Afghanistan related to empowering girls to access education. This requires liaising with Sahar’s Afghan team, Seattle team and regular social media updates and strategies.” This fellowship is a great gateway  to enhance your skills, capacity, and build your career. 

Ideal Candidate:

The ideal candidate will bring excellent research and writing, public speaking and presentation, fundraising, curriculum development, and communication skills. A strong aptitude for organization is required. Non-profit experience and technical skills are a plus. Afghan women nationals are strongly encouraged to apply. 

Job Description: 

The fellowship will include, but is not limited to: grant writing and reporting, content creation, research, community engagement, social media, fundraising, communicating with Sahar’s Afghan team, and program direction of Sahar’s Early Marriage Prevention Program. Through this work the fellow will bring a cultural lens to all of Sahar’s programs and organizational activities. 

Fellowship Timeline: July/August 1st, 2020 until May/June 30th, 2021. 

Contact: Please send us your resume and cover letter at info info@sahareducation.org cc ginnab@sahareducation.org. In your cover letter, please be sure to answer the question “Why do you want to work at Sahar?” We will reach out if candidate is selected to interview.

Apply by Friday, March 13, 2020

Fellowship Job Description

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International Day of the Girl

To end child marriage, invest in a skilled ‘GirlForce’ says Sahar on International Day of the Girl.

As the world celebrates International Day of the Girl on 11 October, Sahar is calling for greater investments to improve girls’ education, skills, and job prospects in Afghanistan.  We stress the importance of creating opportunities and safe spaces for girls’ voices to be heard and listened to in decisions that affect them. 

Ginna Brelsford, executive director of Sahar, says that more attention needs to be given in girls’ education to providing job-relevant skills and training to enable them to participate in the workforce and to move from dreaming to achieving a better future.

Educating girls represents real economic gains. For those girls who are able to continue through to graduation from high school, opportunities for employment and earning power increase. One extra year of secondary school increases a girl’s future wages by up to 25 percent. If a girl receives seven or more years of education she will marry four years later and have 2.2 fewer children, according to the UN Population Fund,” Brelsford said.

Every year, 12 million girls are married globally before the age of 18, depriving them of their rights to education, health and a life of their choosing. 876,00 of these girls are Afghan.

Evidence shows that girls who attend secondary school are three times less likely to be child brides.

They also have better economic prospects, fewer and healthier children, and are more likely to ensure that their own children are not married before 18.

Rachel Yates, Interim Executive Director of Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage, which comprises of over 1300 civil society organizations, said: “Investing in efforts to end child marriage isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s also smart economics. When girls are educated instead of being married young, and have opportunities to earn an income, they are more likely to lead happier, healthier lives, and to contribute to the growth and development of their communities. Ending child marriage has to be a critical part of creating a ‘GirlForce’ of empowered girls who are able to reach their full potential, whilst ensuring we meet our global development goals.”

Under the theme, “GirlForce: Unscripted and unstoppable”, International Day of the Girl will highlight how with the right skills and support, girls can break barriers and build a better world for themselves and future generations. To mark the day, Sahar is highlighting the story of Halima, a graduate of the Early Marriage Prevention Program

“Let’s say I want to be a journalist in future. To fulfill this dream, I need to have access to a lot of resources. I will need access to the internet and communications skills that I learn in this school. The Boarding school [Sahar is building] will help provide facilities that help us achieve our dreams and build our personalities.”

Sahar is a member of Girls Not Brides, a global partnership of more than 1300 civil society organizations from over 100 countries committed to ending child marriage and enabling girls to fulfill their potential. For more information visit www.girlsnotbrides.org

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Welcome Sapida, Sahar’s Newest Afghan Fellow!

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

Sapida 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 Afghanistan. She has worked on the Early Marriage Prevention Program, Teacher Training Center, and Digital Literacy Classes. She is 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. 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.”