Melissa London, a sixth grade teacher, initiated the Service Learning Program between the Pierce Elementary School and Barakat.
Along with colleagues Ken Haynes and Chris Smith, she gave her students the award-winning book, The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis. This is the story of a young Afghan girl who must disguise herself as a boy and earn for her family to survive under the rule of the Taliban.
In September 2008, Arti Pandey of Barakat visited the school to give an interactive presentation to the students about the difficult life of many young girls in Afghanistan. The presentation sparked the idea for the students to hold a fundraising event. Organized into three groups, Outreach, Pierce Pride, and Fundraising, the students conducted presentations for students in lower grades, held bake sales, and sold bookmarks, posters, and banners to raise funds.
Ms. London also invited parents to a screening of documentary film View From a Grain of Sand by director Meena Nanji. Boston University’s Professor of Anthropology, and Barakat board member, Thomas Barfield and Barakat’s Executive Director, Damon Luloff, were present at the event to answer questions. The film discusses the last 30 years of Afghanistan’s history as lived by three Afghan women and how war, international interference and the rise of religious fundamentalism have stripped Afghan women of their basic rights and freedom.
Last year, Barakat organized a Walk for Literacy in which students from the Pierce School also participated. The event, along with the fundraising efforts of the sixth graders at Pierce, raised $5,000. This money enables 125 girls and women in Afghanistan to be educated for a whole year through five home-based Literacy Courses!
Barakat aims to make the Walk for Literacy an annual event. The next Walk for Literacy will take place on Saturday, October 16, 2010. To participate in the event, please click here for more information.