Sahar to Recognize Outstanding Contributions by Frantz H. Coe Elementary

On October 27, 2016, the Seattle-based nonprofit, Sahar, will recognize the students, staff, and parents at Frantz H. Coe Elementary with the Janet W. Ketcham Award. Sahar gives this award every year at their annual dinner to recognize an outstanding contribution to girls’ education in Afghanistan.

Over the last 14 years, Coe Elementary students, parents, and teachers have raised more than $70,000 to fund Sahar’s work to expand access to education for Afghan girls.

The partnership began after Coe Elementary’s school building was destroyed by a fire on January 21, 2001. As parents, teachers, and students began to process their loss, they discussed the fact that other children in other parts of the world did not have a school.

The following year, the Coe Elementary community committed to raise money to help build one of the first girls’ schools in northern Afghanistan after the Taliban’s fall from power—and to continue to raise money each year to maintain it.

Coe Elementary students have raised money and awareness through bake sales, coin drives, and educational events. They’ve funded a new school roof, a library, a well, books, a playground, science equipment, teacher training workshops, and other projects to benefit the girls at their sister school in Afghanistan.

 There is a very simple formula for breaking down cultural stereotypes and prejudice: allow the natural curiosity of children to blossom. Coe Elementary’s project has shaped an entire generation of young people in Seattle and rural Afghanistan. Questions that began with, “What do Afghan and American children eat and do with their time after school?” have helped students mature into international citizens. The beauty of a group of five-year-olds sitting in the Coe gymnasium blossomed into a journey that—for many—continues today, fostering cultural competencies in two crucial nations.”

Ginna Brelsford, Executive Director, Sahar

About the Janet W. Ketcham award: Seattle native Janet Wright Ketcham is devoted to breaking down the barriers that exist for girls and women in Afghanistan. To date, more than 23,000 girls have been served by schools funded by the Janet W. Ketcham Foundation. Sahar honors Ms. Ketcham’s generosity and dedication every year with this award. Ms. Ketcham studied at Smith College, where she has since served on the Board of Trustees. She is also a University of Washington graduate.

About Sahar: Sahar’s vision started with building bridges of understanding between the U.S. and Afghanistan for peace and cooperation in 2001. Since then, Sahar has expanded, building schools, computer centers, and managing teacher training programs in Northern Afghanistan. Sahar has worked in the midst of ongoing conflict for over a decade to increase the status of girls and women in Afghanistan through education, enabling them to participate actively in the social, political, and economic arenas in their communities.

Sahar partnered with the University of Washington’s School of Architecture to design their newest school in Gohar Khaton, reflecting the local culture and values of the Muslim society. The UW School of Architecture continues to offer a studio-design course using the Gohar Khaton Girls’ School as a case study to solve development issues.

Tickets for Sahar’s fundraising dinner this year on October 27th are available at Please register by October 14th.


For more information, contact:

Virginia Turner


Frantz H. Coe Elementary School


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My partnership with Sahar started in 2013 when I was offered the job as structural engineer and construction advisor for the Gohar Khatoon Girls School Project, a school building designed with a new technique for the first time in Afghanistan. The Gohar Khatoon school design is different from the conventional school design done by the Afghan Ministry of Education (MOE) and is based on the sustainability concept that considers the social, economical and environmental parameters in design of the buildings. With this uniqueness, Gohar Khatoon has the potential significantly impact school design in Afghanistan.

Over the past two and half years working with the professional team of SAHAR and other partners including the Department of Architecture at the University of Washington, and Lead Architect Robert Hull was a privilege for me. Furthermore my involvement with this project helped me find my future career direction in “Sustainable Engineering” to first pursue a master level studies and then work in this valuable field in my country, Afghanistan.

Solaiman received his bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Pune University in India. He currently has his own enterprise providing construction consultations. Solaiman serves on the Board of Herat Builders Association. He has over 5 years of professional experience with national and international organizations in planning, designing and executing of infrastructure projects in different parts of the country. He has also participated in academic, social and professional workshops and conferences in and out of the country. He holds a diploma in Leadership from the Institute for Leadership Development (ILD) Herat under Morning Star Foundation. In addition to his professional career, Solaiman has participated in many volunteer activities with organizations that focus on the environment, poverty alleviation, education and economic empowerment.

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