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 Foundationâ€™s Adopt a Student program. The 19-year old lives in Kandahar with her mom, sisters and brothers. â€œIt is not easy to get an education for Afghan women, especially in Kandahar city, but we didnâ€™t give up,â€ says Maryam. â€œAll the students are really happy. My family is really proud.â€
â€œThe 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,â€ explains Aldred. â€œFrom 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 womenâ€™s education.â€
â€œThese 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,â€ 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 ACCCâ€™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 Foundationâ€™s website atÂ www.canilf.org.