Ersari Rug

A Chance to WIN a Beautiful Ersari Rug!


Ersari_RugAfghanistan’s centuries-old carpet industry has some of the most highly skilled weavers in the world. Hand-knotted rugs are Afghanistan’s largest legal export, with one million Afghans working directly or indirectly in the industry. Afghan weavers have maintained their traditional method of creating entirely handmade carpets, from carding to spinning to weaving.

The featured rug is woven in the village of Aqcha, Jowzjan province, in Northern Afghanistan. It is a traditional Ersari Turkmen rug, having a Pardah design. Pardah means ‘covering’ or ‘hanging’ – and is applied to rugs used by the tribes to cover the doorways of their felt yurts. This beautiful rug was woven with all-vegetable dyes, and hand-spun, hard-carded wool.

The size of the rug is 6.2 x 8.10, valued at $3,000, and is donated to Barakat by Yayla Tribal Rugs, located in Cambridge.

Barakat has been instrumental in changing lives through education and literacy in Northern Afghanistan – with a particular focus on the communities that rely on rug weaving as their livelihood. We have two schools and 14 literacy programs for children and women in Jowzjan and Faryab provinces, in Northern Afghanistan.     

Fasting 5K – The Spirit of Ramadan

The Fasting 5K Run has humble origins – a small group of friends wanting to incorporate the American love of running with a unique twist: celebrating the spirit of Ramadan by helping others! This group approached Barakat in 2013 to propose a run that would raise $2,500 for one of our school’s computer labs. Well, that initial modest effort quickly snowballed to become a huge community effort spanning 4 cities – Boston, Houston, and Washington, D.C. – which ended up raising $13,000 in just a week! Now in its second year, the Run also expanded to New York and Southern California, making the Fasting 5K Run a national event where groups in these cities held the run the same day – July 19, 2014! In addition, the Run’s focus on global education also supported education-based organizations in each of the event cities.

fasting 5k run

And so here in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the runners started off at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Centre mosque. Racers were able to select one of three groups to join – either the walking group, jogging group, or running group. The commencement of each wave was appropriately timed such that all of the runners would complete the Run and break the fast at the same time.

With the help of social media, the event has attracted more and more people wanting to raise awareness and funds for Barakat’s students. But it isn’t just about the money – one of the founders, Farhaan Razi, thinks of the run as a symbol for the struggles Barakat’s students encounter every day, and the many miles they often have to trek to school.  That sense of solidarity is what has propelled the Fasting 5K Run to be such a success today.

Barakat is thankful to all the planners, runners and donors of Fasting 5K Run, who helped raise over $8,000 to build a playground for over 900 students at one of our schools in Afghanistan.

Barakat’s 7th Annual Walk for Literacy a Success

Saturday, September 27th, marked Barakat’s biggest day of the year – our annual 7th Walk for Literacy! It was a day of community fun, with a record number of walkers from the Greater Boston area. The day’s proceeds will go towards our schools and literacy programs in Afghanistan and Pakistan; a success that we owe entirely to YOU!

walk 2014

The event began at 9am, when our early-bird walkers came to register, as well as to enjoy the hearty breakfast provided, with special thanks to Dunkin Donuts for their cups o’ joe, and for the amazing breads from When Pigs Fly (Yes, we love the name too!). Once everyone was settled in, it was time to start walking – and walk they did! Amidst perfect, sunny weather, families, school teams, corporate teams, and individuals set off on either the 2.5 mile or 5 mile route around the most scenic parts of Cambridge, which included passing JFK Park, the Charles River, and of course walking through charming Central and Harvard Squares. Post-walk, all participants and volunteers came together for a lunch of delicious Vietnamese sandwiches, coupled with the atmosphere of giving. To see all the photos from the Walk, go here.

Of course, the event would not have been possible without our dedicated team of volunteers working behind and at the scene, as well as our generous corporate sponsors, and YOU – our amazing walkers! We can’t wait for our next Walk – please mark your calendar – Saturday, September 26th would be Barakat’s 8th Annual Walk for Literacy at the same location (Winthrop Park)!

Our special thanks to our corporate sponsors: Landry & Arcari, International Design Guild, Irving House at Harvard, and Eastern Bank. Thank you also to WBUR for providing a generous in-kind publicity for the Walk, as well as to Foodie’s and Dunkin’ Donuts. Finally, we LOVED seeing student teams from the Boston Trinity Academy, Newman School, and Haverhill High.

Looking forward to seeing you all next year!

Barakat’s Success in the Students Own Words

For students at Barakat’s schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan, education is not only about reading, writing and arithmetic; it is about learning how to think, question and speak for change. Through quality education, our students gain access to opportunities – not only for economic mobility, but also for meaningful engagement with society. They gain the skills they need to actively participate in the construction of strong, healthy, just communities. To be thoughtful citizens. This aspect of education is especially important within groups that have traditionally lacked a public voice in society, such as girls and women: for these persons, building capabilities in critical thinking can truly open minds to the injustices and possibilities of life.

When the students from our schools and literacy programs were asked about the importance of women’s education, their answers reflected this remarkable work that goes on within Barakat’s schools. Here are a few of their responses:

Barakat: Why do YOU think education for women and girls is important?

“Education is a basic human right and educated women are the need of the society” – Mastoora, 18, Afghanistan.

“Every woman has the right to be literate” – Farida, 22, Afghanistan.

“Women are as important as boys are” – Ishaq, 16, Pakistan.

“Our country needs more literate women, and education is an absolute right for women. Education is an important tool in rebuilding our country” – Ameda, 20, Afghanistan.

“Women should become as educated as men – Aziza, 30, Afghanistan. Education is the best way to fight poverty” – Enjilah, 20, Afghanistan.

“Education is the way to have a good life” – Nasima, 20, Afghanistan.

“It is a basic teaching of our religion that education is obligatory for men and women” – Mohib, 15, Pakistan.

“A society that aspires to progress needs educated women “- Rokhshana, 35, Afghanistan.

“An educated population, men and women alike, is at the root of a developing society” – Salmat, 36, Afghanistan.

“An educated public is the basic ingredient of democracy” – Zulfia, 35, Afghanistan.

“Only education can let women know what respect they deserve” – Rozika, 14, Pakistan.