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.
After 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.”
The damage has been massive and unyielding. Hundreds of refugees are seeking shelter. Every helping hand is needed to calm the massive crisis. This is still the general state of crisis in Pakistan.
Media coverage of the flooding situation has been plentiful and organizations are working tirelessly to help displaced communities. While Attock, the community where our schools are located, has thankfully been spared from the sweeping damage of the rising floodwaters, hundreds of refugees have streamed in to seek relief from their own devastated communities. A private hospital in Attock’s city center has heeded the call to help these families and, together with Barakat Pakistan, has provided medical check-ups free of charge.