The Canadian International Learning Foundation (CanILF) reports back on the past year's successes, and on the road ahead.
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Letter from the President




Dear Friends and Supporters,

Ten years ago, I received this picture from Kandahar – the first women using the computer lab at the Afghan Canadian Community Center (ACCC). Weeks later, classes were underway and enrollment was building.

Ten years of women’s education, in the birthplace of the Taliban.

Those years were challenging. We navigated a conservative culture, death threats and even assassination attempts against the Director, Ehsanullah Ehsan, only to find ourselves confounded by funding shortfalls, fifty-page grant applications and miles of red tape.

But we carried on – with thousands of graduates and a source of income for more than ten thousand residents, more than 1% of Kandahar Province. 

All from this small, grassroots project.



This year presented a new challenge, as our large-donor funding dried up once more. To survive, the ACCC had to shrink significantly, closing the door on many brave, deserving and eager-to-learn students.

Your donations to last year's Dare to Learn Campaign are the reason many women were able to continue learning. Your generosity kept the door open for them, raising $50,000 in scholarships. I'd particularly like to thank those who supported the recent campaign by Mr. David Belluz. Your help came at a critical time.

The Dare to Learn campaign was led by a former student, Maryam, who hopes we can do it again together this year. (Read more from Maryam below.) With your support, the women can continue to learn, graduate, get good jobs, and have their classes filled by the next round of eager students.

Now operating at a smaller level, ACCC/KIMS can remain sustainable with the help of individuals like you and a few small charities – without having to rely on fluctuating large-donor funding.

Thanks to you, we’ve had so many accomplishments this year – the graduation of more than 130 students, new international online classes offered by Pax Populi, Peace Day celebrations, and the ’16 Days of Activism Against Violence Against Women’ campaign.

But we need your help to continue in 2017. Please donate here to help fund a further 20 scholarships as part of our 12 Days of Learning, where you’ll offer hope to students such as Suhila at a cost of just $30 per month: 

Suhila is 25 years old, and works as a teacher at the local high school. She currently attends one class at the ACCC, but would also like to also join the Skype and Computing classes. She hopes to one day train the future leaders of Afghanistan, to help the country move toward peace.  Suhila’s favorite food is hamburgers, and the people she admires most are her parents for supporting her interest in education. To her supporters, she says: “Thank you very much.” 

All donations are eligible for a Canadian tax receipt.


Thank you so very much for your continued support.

Sincerely,

Ryan Aldred
President

Links in Plain Text:


The 'Dare to Learn' Campaign - https://www.canadahelps.org/en/pages/dare-to-learn/


We're thrilled to announce “Changing Lives Through Education”, the first film project developed and edited by students at the Afghan Canadian Community Center / Kandahar Institute of Modern Studies (ACCC/KIMS). I hope you’ll have a look inside the school that, with your help, has changed so many lives.

Former Student Maryam Naqibullah Continues 'Dare to Learn' Campaign
 



The first school I attended had no building, no desks, and no books. We sat outside and huddled around a board that leaned against rocks. Every day that I attended school, I was at risk of being attacked by the Taliban, but I loved learning, so I went to school anyway. I worked very hard and I learned to read and write in Afghanistan’s two official languages, Pashto and Dari.

I excelled at all subjects and fortunately, when I was 13 years old, I had the opportunity to attend school at the Afghan-Canadian Community Centre (ACCC), so I could learn English and how to use computers. I knew that this modern school was my best chance to give me the skills I needed to make change in my country. I wanted more than anything else for women’s equality in Afghanistan to become a reality.

The opportunity to help Afghan women came to me sooner than expected as I was hired by the Canadian Forces to interpret for Afghan women within less than a year. I was putting my life at risk by choosing to work for the Canadian Forces because the Taliban had been very clear that any Afghan working for NATO would be killed.  I put my fears aside and chose to work for the sake of a better future for Afghan women.

Through my work as an interpreter for NATO, Canadian development officers were able to hear directly from Afghan women for the first time, and were therefore able to direct financial aid to areas where it was most needed. I oversaw gender projects, and provided interpretation for training sessions, interviews, conferences and female councils, throughout Kandahar. 

Because of the ACCC’s education program for women, their work enabled me to improve the lives of women in Kandahar, and now, I am living in Canada, studying political science and international relations at Carleton University in Ottawa. After I complete my education in Canada, I will return to Afghanistan where I plan to serve my country as a politician who improves the lives of all Afghans, including women.

The ACCC has made achieving my dreams possible, and it has done the same for thousands of other Afghan women. It has changed their lives for the better by giving them options and opportunities. We can have careers, become entrepreneurs, earn our own money, and support our families, all while instilling in the next generation the value of education and hard work.

Last year 2015, I launched Dare to learn Campaign to raise $100.000 for the school and I was able to raise $50,000 with generous support of Canadian public to keep the school open for a while until Canadian government made their decision but unfortunately they refused to fund the school. I still want to hit the goal of $100,000 and would highly appreciate any generous support to the Afghan Canadian Community Centre to make sure Afghan women keep getting education.


To help, please donate here: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/pages/dare-to-learn/

Sincerely,

Maryam Naquibullah

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