"As our people bloom, so must the land. Introducing our children and their parents to the wonders of our native plants will restore beauty to the land and our lives."
Dr. S. Yacoobi
After over 30 years of war, Afghanistan’s natural environment has been devastated. AIL is helping Afghans grow, nurture and learn about the conservation and use of plants indigenous to their country. Indigenous trees and plants are disappearing and Afghans have lost the knowledge of what plants to use for medicines, dyes, soap and other uses. The Afghan Institute of Learning developed a Green Afghanistan Workshop and trained teachers, establishing conservation plots with native Afghan plants (maintained by students and clinic patients) at some of its Learning Centers and clinics.
In October 2010, AIL staff members traveled to Nebraska,USA to attend a Nature Action Forum to learn about plant cultivation and curriculum design to bring back the historical “Yunani” system of healing with plants and the use of plant products in dyes and in lieu of soaps as cleaning agents. Through the decades of war, these traditions were lost along with the vegetation in the natural environment and village and urban setting. AIL’s project to bring nature back to the educational system of Afghanistan is one more step toward honoring Afghan ancestors' wisdom and culture.
Afghans will, once again, have the chance to experience the healing environment of having plants in their daily life and will learn how to plant, nurture, use and conserve native plants. Potentially these Afghans will grow plants in their own homes and environments.
Latest News - Over 400 trees planted at various Learning Centers, the AIL office, schools, orphanages, and a private hospital.
HERAT APRIL 8-9, 2012
Since 1995, the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) has been helping Afghans lift themselves above the devastation of war by providing education, training, health care, and health education. AIL’s approach is to interlink health and education programs, like building blocks that together form a whole structure. While delivering these basic services AIL has also been able to promote critical thinking skills and model and teach human rights, women’s rights, peace, democracy, and leadership. With new skills and information, Afghans are becoming empowered and hopeful. Through the natural progression that exists when people begin to think for themselves, AIL often receives requests from Afghans who want to find ways to work together to promote love, understanding, and forgiveness to their people in order to return to a peaceful way of life; the way of their country’s history.
Supported by Fetzer Institute, AIL responded to these requests by holding an International Conference on Love and Forgiveness that will be shared throughout the country and internationally via film. This conference focused on the study of Afghan poets and musicians, particularly the work of Mawlana (Rumi). Participating in the conference were poets, writers, Sufis and government representatives from all parts of Afghanistan and the world.
Joining the Conference, in person, or via film or writings:
· Poet Coleman Barks; known as the pre-eminent translator of Rumi, the great 13th century poet and teacher. Mr. Barks’ writings and translations have filled 15 books that are more popular than other renderings of these ancient words. They make Rumi’s raptures accessible to the world beyond their creation.
· Stephen Olsson, President of CEM Productions, has produced and directed documentary films, television series and feature news reports throughout the world for US and European broadcasters. He also produced and directed: Afghanistan: The Fight For A Way of Life, which was broadcast throughout the world and cited by The New York Times as one of the best documentary films of the year.
· Divine Mother Audrey Kitagawa, a former attorney, practiced in Honolulu for twenty years, and became the spiritual leader of The Light of Awareness International Spiritual Family, a worldwide community based in Hawaii. Divine Mother Audrey is a prolific writer on matters of spirituality and multiculturalism and serves on many global, spiritual and UN advisory boards, including as Advisor to the World Federation of United Nations Associations.
AIL invites you to join Afghans in thought and through your own study of music and poetry that brings us all closer to the peaceful world we endeavor to achieve.
The Conference was a great success with compliments paid by many attendees and even the hosting hotel. Interest in this project was far reaching and the conference received coverage in local press but also national and some international. AIL received requests to hold workshops on the topic of love and forgiveness and peace and received Ministry of Education approval to go ahead. These workshops have been popular with several hundred people having attended. The workshops covered the topics of the poetry of Rumi, peace, ethics, responsibility, justice, gender, violence, leadership and good citizenship. All the participants were very interested as these subjects had not been taught before and they were interested to learn about the poet Rumi and felt encouraged to believe tranquility and peace could be created in Afghanistan.
Access to the Internet
Since 1995, AIL has been helping to build the capacity of Afghan women and girls to pursue their dreams through education and training. As a result, thousands of women are now living with purpose, contributing to their families and communities. With the parallel process of the proliferation of knowledge among Afghan women and the proliferation of the Internet, it is perhaps not surprising that AIL students have a desire to engage with their peers through this media.
In 2010, AIL joined with two other organizations to provide safe discussion forums with women and students from around the world. The rural women of one of AIL’s largest centers, as well as urban AIL staff are now able to talk with other women from around the world, who are living very different lives than their own. All of these Afghans are now able to talk with people from different backgrounds and cultures. Through contact with the world outside of Afghanistan, these now literate women and children are able to make friends and find support through sharing experience in discussions. The World pulse project is a communication project between the women of Afghanistan and the world. Afghan women can share their ideas with the other parts of the world and share social topics with each other. Topics include things like lack of education in Afghanistan, parents, culture or logic and marriage in Afghanistan
In every class, no matter what the subject, AIL uses a student-centered, interactive teaching method that fosters critical thinking skills. Thus women and girls are empowered to make decisions of their own. Through something as simple as Internet access, these women will learn to question. As people question, they begin to trust their own thinking and their own judgment. As they trust their own judgment, they feel more comfortable trusting others. Critical thinking, questioning, the repair of values; these qualities will eventually turn the tide of family relationships in Afghanistan. With that will come more relational security and the rebuilding of communities of people who can question together to produce joint solutions?
With access to the Internet a seed has been planted. The more the women and children of Afghanistan are able to access information and interact with others from around the world, the greater commitment they will have to lead their own lives. Empowered in this way, they are better equipped to help improve the lives of their families, children, and communities – and impact the future of Afghanistan in a positive way.
Mobile literacy program in AIL Learning Centers
Begun in June 2011, AIL and Georgetown University’s Afghan Women’s council joined forces to pilot a new mobile literacy project. The goal is to reinforce literacy skills among newly literate women and girls in rural Afghanistan, and to provide them with the opportunity to use mobile phone technology, and thus communicate with their peers, mentors, and family. Currently, two centers are piloting the new program. The students are illiterate and learn the alphabet on the phone. They are taught how to use the phone and how to text .
AIL is delighted to report that this program has been a great success, the students are enthusiastic and engage in frequent texting beyond that required by the class. The program also has a social benefit enabling communication between young people and especially women who may be restricted in when and where they can go out from the home. More communication brings more sharing and support and helping each other this rebuilds the fabric of caring, supportive community which is crucial to healthy societal resurgence in Afghanistan