Malaria in India: Education is Needed

 Malaria is a preventable and curable disease. But each year, over one million people around the world die from it! These two facts stress the importance of addressing the malaria issue, especially in high-risk areas. In the unrelenting heat of Uttar Pradesh in India, where Barakat has had a presence since 2004, malaria is an immediate and very dangerous concern. Malaria is widely known to be spread through infected mosquitoes in pools of stagnant water like rice-fields or even hoof prints in the ground. Despite the fact that malaria medications are available free of charge in government hospitals, problems with infrastructure and lack of education often keep efforts to control the disease from being successful. The malaria threat is especially prevalent in pregnant women and children, whose weaker immune systems give the disease an opportunity to make its way into the blood stream.

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At the Polls in Afghanistan: Educated Women Vote!

On September 18th, as the rest of the world watched, fingers all over Afghanistan were stained for political participation. While watching the progress of the elections, did you wonder about the voting experience in Afghanistan? Can you imagine voting without being able to read? How would you know who to vote for or how to approach a complicated paper ballot? Would voting even seem worth it?  We caught up with two women, both students in Barakat’s literacy courses, who proudly participated in this year’s voting process.

Shareen, 45 and Gulalay, 35, took an interest in Afghan politics and  voted in the recent elections.

Shareen has been following politics in Afghanistan since elections were established after the Taliban fell in 2001.“When the Taliban was in power, women were not aware of politics and there was no opportunity for them to think about these things,” says Shareen.

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The 3rd Annual Walk for Literacy: A Great Success!

altAfter two years of great Walks for Literacy, our entire Cambridge Office was looking forward to another great event – and we got one! In a stroke of good news from the weatherman, there was lots of sun and a crisp breeze last Saturday as 160 Walkers came out in support of literacy in South and Central Asia. Participants came from many age groups and occupations, but everyone was motivated by the same cause – our footsteps were seen all around Cambridge! Our distinguished speakers, Mayor of Cambridge David Maher and human rights activist, Liz Walker, both touched on the idea of collective action in their speeches during the opening ceremony, and urged all participants, especially the youth, to value education and literacy.

After the Walk finished, we caught up with a few Walkers who were thrilled to share their thoughts about the event:

Barakat Board of Advisers member, Carolyn Lee, summed up her motivation for the Walk by stressing literacy’s importance in developing countries: ”The only way you will ever have peace in a country like Afghanistan is if you educate the women.”


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Country Specific Goals


In Afghanistan, our communities face a fractured economy because of three decades of political unrest following the Russian invasion. The civil war in Afghanistan that began in 1978 continues to this day, and Afghanistan has not had a stable government for several years. In 2001, the United States, with the United Kingdom, launched a war in the country in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks. These are some of the reasons for poor literacy levels in Afghanistan and the compromised status of women in this traditional society.








Neighboring Pakistan is home to a large number of refugees who have fled war-torn Afghanistan, which has created a burden on a country ill-equipped to support so many people. Also, in Pakistan, female education is given a low priority and many families are prepared to have their daughters married around the time they reach puberty. These girls grow into women deprived of an education who attempt to do the same with their daughters. The only way to break this vicious cycle is to intercede early and encourage families to send their children to school, giving them new economic opportunities for the future and new perspectives on the role of men and women in society.











India struggles with crippling poverty. Many families are forced to live without the basics of food and shelter. As a result, they often choose send their children to work for additional income rather than sending them to school. But, this practice keeps a family tethered to poverty because the lack of education makes successive generations ineligible to participate in the competitive Indian job market, where salaries with private companies are considerably higher than in the public sector.











Our Response:

By opening schools in these regions, Barakat aims to reach out to the country’s youth, particularly girls and women, who we believe are powerful agents of change in their families and communities. Barakat strives to create a thinking populace that will participate in their country’s democratic process and adopt leadership roles. This will spark change that can transcend generations and allow Barakat to fulfill its purpose of helping communities shape their own future through education.

  • Provide merit-based scholarships for higher education for school and university education
  • Open school libraries and computer labs
  • Two parent-teacher meetings during the year, one for women and one for men. During the PTA sessions, women will be provided a free health check-up as an incentive to promote participation
  • Expand school campus and increase infrastructure
  • Provide regular teacher training and refresher courses, with an emphasis on creative and interactive teaching techniques
  • Add one grade level each year until schools reach their capacity
  • Increase student enrollment and hire new teachers accordingly
  • Increase female enrollment by creating an all-girls section in each grade or operating two shifts during the school day
  • Increasing subjects offered in each grade until capacity
  • Providing classes after school and during the summer to students who need extra help with schoolwork