Newsletter 2016

Our 2016 newsletter is now online – click here for our Letter from President, an update from former Kandahar student Maryam Naqibullah, and a student-made video that will take you into the heart of the Afghan Canadian Community Center (ACCC) and the Kandahar Institute of Modern Studies (KIMS).

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Maryam Shares Her Story

Maryam is currently studying International Relations at Carleton University in Ottawa. Previously, she was the only female translator for the NATO Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kandahar. She recently presented at the annual Symposium for Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan, and shared the full impact of KIMS’ help here.

What was your life like before you started attending the ACCC?

During the Taliban regime, I was a girl who was going to forests to collect wood in order to make sure that we had enough wood for fire so our mother could cook for us. I was also bringing water since we didn’t have any water inside of our houses. I never ever thought that one day I would get an education. Everything seemed hopeless and life was like in prison.

Why did you decide to pursue higher education, despite the risks?


We have been victim of war and violence for more than three decades. Every Afghan is tired of this violence, war and destruction. The main reason of this ongoing war and violence in Afghanistan is illiteracy. Education is the only key to the success and through education we can bring peace to our country and work together with the support of International Community to reconstruct Afghanistan and remove the roots of terrorism in Afghanistan and never let our younger generation to become once again the victim of violence, or anyone to take advantage of us like Taliban did…

What class or teacher at the ACCC made the biggest difference in your life?

English and computer classes made huge difference in my life. I have accomplished a lot in past three years in Afghanistan and in Canada and it’s all because of Afghan Canadian Community Center. If today, I am student of Political Science at Carleton University and pursing my undergraduate in International Relations and I have the ability to write my assignments in English, understand my lecture and speak in English with my professors. It’s all again because of ACCC. ACCC was the first place where I learned my English and Computer skills.

What do you think makes the ACCC different from other programs in Afghanistan?

The ACCC is the only place for Kandahari girls where they are provided best environment, best discipline, culturally most appropriate and they can get life skills in English, Management and Computer studies.
Students are enabled to get jobs with different International and local organization and support their family economically. This also brings a positive change in life of Kandahar women and they become breadwinner for the family and gain more respect.

How did Internet access, the computer lab, or access to the resource library impact your life or your studies?

In Afghanistan our schools don’t have enough materials that student can benefit from or solve their problems while they are in school. They always struggle a lot getting more information about their favorite subjects. So having access to internet and library at ACCC is very useful and helped students to take out books or even read it inside the center to find the answer for their questions. It has really positive impact on our knowledge on the other side of the world too. Through these facilities we can get better information about the world.

What employment positions have you held since studying at the ACCC?

I worked as Protection Clerk for UNHCR, Legal Translator for International Legal Foundation, Only female interpreter with the Canadian Forces in Kandahar, Gender Advisor for US State Department in Kandahar. I was the breadwinner for my family at that time and currently I have been training the Canadian troops across Canada plus I worked as translator with Canadian Immigration in Ottawa.

What educational programs would you like to complete in the future?

I have dream of obtaining my PHD in International Relations one day and to become a diplomat in the future.

Do you plan to return to Afghanistan? If so, what sort of work would you like to do when you return?

It’s my main goal to return to Afghanistan and serve my country as minister of Foreign Affairs but the security situation in Afghanistan will decide that for me.

Are there any other messages you would like to share?

ACCC has brought a huge change in life of Kandahar women. It’s the only institution where girls have full access to English language, computer, management and other online courses. To continue to help Kandahar women it would be the place where International donor money can make a huge change in life of Afghan women and their families.

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ACCC Morning Program Brings Hope to More than 150 Students

English language class in progress

With the support of Canadian donors and our partner charities, more than 150 female students in Kandahar are now receiving vital education at the Afghan Canadian Community Center’s Morning Program in Kandahar. This program, provided by the Kandahar Institute of Modern Studies, allows students to receive professional training in a range of high-demand fields, including computing, business, communications and journalism.

A Small Program with a Big Impact

The total yearly cost of the program is $45,000, a figure raised with the support of the Luke Four Foundation, the Cadmus Foundation, and individual Canadian donors. The Canadian International Learning Foundation (CanILF) has pledged to support the Morning Program for the next three years (2013 to 2015), and has successfully raised the first year’s costs. This multi-year commitment will provide a vital source of reliable funding for both the Afghan Canadian Community Center and Kandahar Institute of Modern Studies, providing stability to the students and teachers.

“We are thrilled to continue our long-standing relationship with the Afghan Canadian Community Center,” said Ryan Aldred, President of CanILF. “Their industry-leading training will go a long way toward building local capacity in Kandahar and clearly demonstrating the value of education for Afghan women.”

The Afghan Canadian Community Center has served the women of Kandahar since 2006 and received funding from the Canadian International Development Agency from 2008 to 2012. During this period, the Center successfully trained 2,278 graduates. The students who secured employment as a result of this education provide economic support to an estimated 9,800 residents of Kandahar. The Kandahar Institute of Modern Studies – the Center’s parent organization – is presently funded by a grant from US State Department.

Computer students practice their lessons

Help Us Keep the Morning Program Running

CanILF Board Member volunteer Erin Collins is raising funds for Morning Program scholarships at the Afghan Canadian Community Center as she prepares to run her first-ever marathon on May 26. Her goal is to raise $1,050 – or a one–month scholarship ($25) for a female student for each of the 42.2 kilometres of the race. To contribute to her campaign and help cheer her on, please visit Erin’s Giving Page here. Donations are eligible for Canadian tax receipts and also count toward our $30,000 annual fundraising goal, which will unlock the next $15,000 matching grant from the Cadmus Foundation.

You can also sponsor Morning Program students through our Adopt-a-Student program for as little as $10 per month. As a Scholarship funders, you will receive a student profile telling you about your student’s interests and plans for the future.

English langauge class in progress

English langauge class in progress

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’12 Days of Learning’ a Huge Success for Afghan Women

Thanks to your generous support, the new year is off to a fantastic start for between 150 and 200 women and girls and their families in Kandahar!

Donations of all sizes have combined to enable the Canadian International Learning Foundation (CanILF) to exceed our 12 Days of Learning goal, raising a total of $10,000 and unlocking the $15,000 matching grant from the Cadmus Foundation. Most importantly, your gifts have allowed the women’s morning education program to enter 2013 with a full year of funding in place ($45,000) to cover the core operating costs of the Afghan Canadian Community Center in Kandahar.

This means students and teachers can go into their morning English, Computing and Communications courses confident that the classes will continue. It also puts CanILF volunteers in a better position to seek out new partners and funding sources to help students thrive at this highly-respected school.

Your generosity also proves to large donor agencies – such as the US State Department, which provides most of funding for the Kandahar Institute of Modern Studies (KIMS), the ACCC’s parent organization – that the Insititute has widespread international support from charities and individual donors alike. This kind of support can play a critical role in helping us renew our current grant, and give KIMS the time needed to achieve self-sustainability. The morning program will educate 150 to 200 girls and women. Overall, the Institute expects to provide vital education for between 1,500 to 1,800 women and men in Kandahar this year.

Having exceeded the 12 Days of Learning campaign goal by more than $1,300, the additional funds will allow us to start working toward funding the program through to the end of 2015 and, if possible, fund even more student scholarships in 2013. Donations that exceeded our goal also became the first to count towards our next matching grant, as the Cadmus Foundation will provide another $15,000 match once we raise an additional $30,000. This means that going forward your donations will continue to have an even greater impact!

We are very grateful for every donor as well as the volunteers who created and promoted the zero-cost 12 Days of Learning campaign. My sincere thanks as well to all of you who shared the information with your friends and family; we were introduced to many first-time supporters as a result. This volunteer support will also allow us to use 100% of donations received to fund scholarships and purchase educational equipment.

Thank you as well to the Luke Four Foundation for their generous donation last month, which also supports women’s education in Kandahar and got us off on a great start as we successfully raised our first $30,000. We are also deeply honoured by the support of Capt. Trevor Greene and the Greene Family Education Initiative Fund, which contributed $1,000 this December to CanILF’s programming at the ACCC.

To those of you who are new to us, welcome and thank you! Visit www.canilf.org to learn more about CanILF’s volunteer-run work to support education in regions of poverty, war or illness. You can also contact me any time, or connect with us on Facebook for CanILF and the Afghan School Project.

Lastly, I would like to share the words of Ms. Yelda Mahmoud, a former ACCC student now living in Canada, who donated to the Campaign.

Yelda wrote: “Educate a woman and you will educate a nation.”

Wishing you and our students great things for 2013,

Ryan Aldred
President
Canadian International Learning Foundation

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Afghan Update & 12 Days of Learning

ROBYN2

Dear Friends and Supporters,

This has been an incredibly eventful year for the Canadian International Learning Foundation (CanILF) and our partners. Most recently, we are pleased to announce new support for a morning programat the Afghan Canadian Community Center in Kandahar, as well as a new grant that gives us the opportunity to qualify for a $15,000 matching donation if we can raise a further $8,700. We hope to raise this in just 12 days (by December 31) and allow the morning program to start 2013 with a full year of funding and stability in place. We hope you decide to help us make the most of this 12 Day opportunity to receive the match and educate more students in need.

The morning program will educate between 150 and 200 Afghan girls and women in English, Computing and Communications. Just days ago, the Cadmus Foundation announced they are providing a $15,000 match for each $30,000 CanILF raises between now and 2015 (to a maximum of $45,000). Recently-received donations, including a generous new grant from the Luke Four Foundation, count towards the matching total, so we are now just $8,700 away from qualifying to receive the $15,000 matching grant in 2012.

This means now is the best time to donate and make an even greater difference in the lives of Afghan women. Plus, you can still receive a Canadian tax receipt for 2012, or even donate as a gift and receive a student profile via email just in time for the holidays.

To help get the new morning program off to the right start, donate to our 12 Days of Learning campaign online. You can make a one-time donation or help a student attend English and Computing courses for just $10, $15 or $25 per month, for any number of months. To receive your student’s profile, please include ‘Adopt-a-Student’ in your message. To provide you a 2012 Canadian tax credit, and to have the donation count towards the match in 2012, we must receive your donation by December 31.

With your donations and the full match, the new morning program would start 2013 with a full year of funding in place to cover the core costs in Kandahar to operate the program ($45,000). This would provide significant stability and comfort to students and teachers. It would also better enable future planning and make it easier to attract new international partners and raise even greater donations to help students thrive. The impact of your donation has truly never been greater.

I look forward to updating you further on the Afghan school and CanILF’s other programs, including the Uganda Literacy and Education Program (www.ulep.org) and the Educator Volunteer Network (www.educatorvolunteer.net), in early in 2013.

Again, to donate to the 12 Days of Learning campaign and help us receive the $15,000 match, please click here or send a cheque payable to the Canadian International Learning Foundation to: The Canadian International Learning Foundation, PO Box 4791 Station E, Ottawa, ON, K1S 5B1.

Yours Sincerely,

 

Ryan Aldred
President
Canadian International Learning Foundation
Ph. (613) 503-5349
Em. staff@canilf.org

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A New Name for the ACCC: The Kandahar Institute of Modern Studies Offers More for Students and for Afghanistan

After five years of successful operations, the Afghan-Canadian Community Centre (ACCC) is embracing a new name with bright, new prospects. Ehsanullah Ehsan, director of the now-called Kandahar Institute of Modern Studies (KIMS), and recent recipient of the Charles W. Bowser Award for Innovation in Education, the US National Educator’s top honour, envisions an institution that will graduate “great leaders of the new generation”.

Ehsan explained the significance of changing from a ‘Centre’ to an ‘Institute’. The certificates offered by KIMS will be of greater value to recipients, as the new name better reflects the facility’s quality of professional instruction and the students’ academic achievements. Also, the Institute aspires to “eventually secure accreditation from the Ministry of Higher Education in Kabul, while the Center could not”. Furthermore, Ehsan plans to generate a higher amount of local revenue resulting from these new developments as the school moves towards greater self-sufficiency.

Including ‘Kandahar’ in the new name is meant to emphasize the “local nature of the school”, as well as facilitate possibilities for funding and partnerships from sources outside of Canada. The U.S. government has recently provided a generous grant expected to cover operating costs and teaching fees over the next year and Ehsan hopes that Canadian volunteers and organizations will continue as key supporters of the school. The ACCC has enjoyed tremendous growth and success over the last five years and Ehsan was pleased to affirm that the name will live on. The school’s morning program for instruction in English, computers, and business, which is attended by over 160 Kandahari women, will continue to operate under the name ‘Afghan-Canadian Community Centre’.

Ehsan further highlighted the school’s role in contemporary Kandahar as he called for students and graduates of KIMS to “develop and adopt new ideas of modernity and enlightenment, including the importance of science, rationality, equality and justice, human reason, tolerance, and new technologies.” Eshan’s vision is strong in this regard: “My hope is the young men and women from this Institute will…lead Afghanistan to a better future; they will gradually replace many of the evil forces that seek to control our destinies.”

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ACCC Announces New Partnership With U.S. State Department

U.S. government enables Afghan women’s school to continue – just in the nick of time

We are thrilled to announce that the Afghan-Canadian Community Center has received the new funding needed to ensure its doors remain open.

The U.S. government generously provided a grant that is expected to total more than $150,000 over the next year.  The first $50,000 has already been received in Kandahar and will support the center’s popular afternoon program educating 1,600 students, most of whom are women.

The new funds arrived just in the nick of time, after nearly five years of funding came to an end from the Canadian government.

“We are grateful, excited and relieved,” says Ryan Aldred, President of the Canadian International Learning Foundation (www.canilf.org), the registered Canadian charity that helped develop the school together with Ehsanullah Ehsan, a local educator in Afghanistan.

“This education gives women a chance to support their families and it ensures there are educated, skilled employees for local businesses, the Afghan government and international development agencies,” says Ehsan. “People in the community see that and it helps them think that women and women’s education are important, and maybe their daughters should get an education too.”

The staff, students and families in Kandahar – as well as the Canadian International Learning Foundation volunteers – very much appreciate the U.S. government’s donation. We are also thankful for all the individual donors supporting student scholarships, and the support previously provided by the Government of Canada.

“I think the Government of Canada’s role in helping to establish and support the school has been one of Canada’s most significant accomplishments in Afghanistan,” says Aldred.

However, he adds that the Government of Canada is missing a chance to ensure that the school is part of Canada’s lasting legacy in Kandahar Province. “It’s a massively-successful project in one of the world’s most difficult and deserving regions. For well less than half a million dollars over six years, we have been able to provide vital professional training to several thousand students and ensure a source of income for close to 10,000 Kandahar residents.”

For more information or to donate to student scholarships, visit www.theafghanschool.org.

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Classroom Fundraising Success

Yimeng Wang and a few of her friends got together and held a fundraiser for CanILF as a school project. Their efforts now allow a student in Afghanistan to attend school for an entire year! Here is her description of the project. Many thanks to Yimeng, Sanghoon, Jack and Shayna!

From Yimeng:

Who Says Kids Can’t Make a Difference? Four Kids Raise $128 for CanILF

It was through a school project on social justice that our group found out about the Canadian International Learning Foundation. This project on global education required several periods of research on the topic. During one such period, we discovered a website belonging to a volunteer-run organization dedicated to fighting for worldwide education- www.canilf.org. Coincidentally, we needed to support an organization that supported this subject area and the Canadian International Learning Foundation fit the requirements perfectly. Through the website, we managed to generate a basis for our campaign. Based on suggested ideas and past fundraisers, we decided to host a bake sale. We won the in-class vote on which organization to sponsor resulting in whole class support for our fundraiser.

Once that was settled, we had to consider how to advertise our fundraiser, and pull it off. With help from Ryan Aldred, the president of the organization, we managed to piece together a draft of how everything should go, and finalized it prior to an announcement made to the whole school. After all the oral preparations, we were finally ready to start the physical ones; baking.

We asked the class for help bringing in baked goods. We ourselves tried to bake as much as possible. The end result was a cartload of treats; tray after tray of cookies, brownies, cupcakes, and squares. When we began to lay everything out on the table, the amount of food we managed to bring in was amazing. With some posters set up around the stand, we were ready to meet the consumer needs. Our display attracted the attention of so many people; students of all ages lined up, clamoring for our selections. Several passing teachers joined in the fun and the line to our sale stretched out all the way down the hall. By the end of recess, we had sold out and earned a hefty sum, considering the circumstances. Our whole class found the bake sale to be a very enjoyable experience, knowing that we had a made a difference made it even better. We are very proud to have been able to donate to CanILF, and help children around the world receive a better education.

Aurora Senior Public School

Sanghoon Oh, Jack Pan, Shayna Pan, Yimeng Wang

 

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ACCC Director Ehsanullah Ehsan’s Graduation Day Report


Ehsanullah Ehsan addresses the crowd

Ehsan reports on the actions of the day and includes quotes from prominent members of the organization and people in the community.  PLUS: A text version of Ehsan’s International Women’s Day speech delivered to graduates, guests and the media present.

International Women’s Day and Graduation Speech (pdf)

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As Canadian and U.S. malls fill with grad dresses, 200 Afghan women cross the stage in Kandahar

As Canadian and U.S. malls fill with teenage girls looking for just the right prom dress, women and girls in Kandahar have just crossed a stage of their own. Two hundred female students graduated on March 10th from the Afghan-Canadian Community Center (ACCC), a 1500-student educational institute supported by the Canadian International Learning Foundation, a registered Canadian charity. The school and many individual students are sponsored by Canadian donors as well as the Canadian and U.S. governments.

Maryam was sponsored by donors through the Canadian International Learning Foundation’s Adopt a Student program. The 19-year old lives in Kandahar with her mom, sisters and brothers. “It is not easy to get an education for Afghan women, especially in Kandahar city, but we didn’t give up,” says Maryam. “All the students are really happy. My family is really proud.”

More than 600 people attended the graduation ceremony, including family members, senior Afghanistan government officials and local media. They helped the graduates celebrate an accomplishment that for many women was beyond their wildest dreams. “Until recently, receiving this type of education was something few women in Kandahar could experience,” says Ryan Aldred, President and Co-Founder of the Canadian International Learning Foundation, based in Ottawa.Sixteen of the 200 ACCC graduates received a certificate of achievement in Business Management from SAIT Polytechnic. The Calgary-based post-secondary institute has partnered with the ACCC since 2007. “The students have been logging into SAIT courses just as a Canadian student would, except they are doing it from a desk in Kandahar,” says Gord Nixon, Vice President Academic at SAIT Polytechnic. SAIT sent caps and gowns for the 16 students to wear.
Gifts of kitchen sets, stationery, clocks, shoes, clothes, school bags and teapots were distributed among the participants. These had been generously donated and prepared by UNHCR and ISAF.  The graduates and guests also enjoyed refreshments, all of which were arranged by the ACCC and its student contributions.
Sponsoring a future graduate takes just $15 per month on average, depending on the course. With a third of the 200 female graduates already securing employment, the investment is clearly life-changing.

“The students are in demand by international development agencies, local businesses and the Afghan government. It gives the women the chance to support their families and be part of the reconstruction of Afghanistan,” explains Aldred. “From past years we know that employed graduates are financially supporting an average of five family members. Not only does that mean a better life for the women and their families, but it also helps to slowly show the community the value of women and of women’s education.”

Mehmood Karzai - President of Ayno Foundation

“These results are thanks to the continued support provided to us by the benevolent people of Canada and the very generous financial assistance given to us by the Canadian government through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). The U.S. Department of State has also supported our English and leadership courses,” says Ehsanullah Ehsan, Director of the ACCC.

The ACCC started in 2007 with a small group of students and the help of the Canadian International Learning Foundation. Today, it is a respected institution with 1,500 students, most of whom are female. Students receive an education in business management, Information Technology, English and communications. More than half the ACCC’s funding is provided by the Canadian government through CIDA. That funding will continue until September 2012. Individual donors sponsor students like Maryam.

To learn more or to donate to send a Kandahar woman to school, visit the Canadian International Learning Foundation’s website at www.canilf.org.

Media Contact
Robyn Crawford
Canadian International Learning Foundation
Mobile: 403.650.4608
robyn.crawford@educatorvolunteer.net
www.canilf.org

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