Barakat’s work is concentrated in the South and Central Asian countries of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Both countries share historic, geographic, linguistic and cultural traditions. Despite this, there are few organizations that simultaneously work in Pakistan and Afghanistan because of their tumultuous past, which has yet to find a resolution. Barakat’s work is a step toward opening channels of communication across borders as individuals from both countries unite to realize their vision of a developed region.
Barakat currently operates two schools in the Faryab and Jowzjan provinces of Northwest Afghanistan, and three schools in the Attock region of Pakistan. Largely due to the instable political climate at the time in Afghanistan, Barakat opened its first school in Pakistan in 1994, and added two more schools before opening a school in Afghanistan in 2003, followed by another. The five schools in both countries employ entirely native staff and teachers who represent the student community. Barakat not only pays for all staff and teacher salaries, but also provides all programs and services free of cost to students, including uniforms, stationery, textbooks, firewood, drinking water, and health services.
While the schools boast an overall increasing enrollment rate, Barakat understands that some students, particularly young girls and women, may have a number of cultural obligations and traditional expectations that prevent them from attending regular schools. To fit the needs of the community and respecting the cultures within which we work, Barakat offers literacy programs in Afghanistan designed to bring education to the homes of our female students in Afghanistan,and evening classes for working girls in Pakistan. And because our students’ health directly impacts their education, Barakat hires doctors and nurses from the local communities and provides health services like routine physical exams, vaccinations and medications for seasonal illnesses. This year, over 3,000 students are benefiting from Barakat’s schools and literacy programs in Pakistan and Afghanistan.