"We are glad we could raise a substantial amount that will have tangible benefits." Usha Kandala and Palaka Bhattacharya, along with their four other classmates, tackled the daunting task of fundraising as a class assignment, but the impact of their work travels far beyond the confines of their classroom at Harvard Extension School. Raising more than $1,400 in about six weeks, the group has ensured that 25 more women will
attend Barakat's home-based literacy courses in Afghanistan and furthered Barakat's education initiatives in India.
For Usha and Palaka, aiding Barakat in its mission to provide basic education to women and children in South Asia was the fulfillment of personal connection to their home communities. "We have been grateful for the educational opportunities we have had that allowed us to come to the US," said the two women, who headed up the group's work with Barakat. "We wanted to help others…in the hopes that one day they may have the same opportunities we have had."
Leaving no fundraising stone unturned, the group called on friends and family to support Barakat's work and sought partnerships with local stores such as Ben & Jerry's and Uno's Restaurant. The team, comprised of working professionals, parents and full-time students, also organized the Legs for Literacy Walk around Cambridge, modeled after Barakat's own Walk for Literacy.
Speaking passionately about Barakat's work, Palaka says, "It's a well-documented fact that children and girls in particular in some of these feudal and poor socio-economic areas of South Asia have less access to education. Anything that can be done to encourage girls and change the mindset of people in this region will go a long way. This makes Barakat's work all the more important.
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