Afghan-Canadian Community Center featured by Canadian Press

July 12th, 2011 No comments

This week Colin Perkel, award-winning writer for the Canadian Press, profiles the teachers and students at the Afghan-Canadian Community Center in Kandahar and the challenges they face. The article has been carried by several other Canadian media outlets including Maclean’s, Canada’s pre-eminent current affairs magazine.

Foremost among those featured are the women students of the ACCC, whose strength of character persists amidst the most challenging of circumstances. As noted by Heena Tariq, one of those interviewed: “It’s not fair we are afraid and stay home. We have to be brave. We have to study for the future and brighten our lives.”

Watch the video.

Read the article.

ACCC recognized by Government of Canada event, Kandahar students sign banner of thanks

May 11th, 2011 23 comments
RoCK Tim Martin presents ACCC Director Ehsanullah Ehsan with a certificate of appreciation

At a recent event held to celebrate the achievements of the Canadian International Development Agency’s (CIDA) partners in Kandahar, the Afghan-Canadian Community Centre (ACCC) was recognized for the vital role they’ve played as part of the Kandahar Local Initiatives Program, which outlined education as a top priority in the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

Tim Martin, Representative of Canada in Kandahar, presented ACCC Director Ehsanullah Ehsan with an official achievement certificate to commemorate his many accomplishments. Martin praised the efforts of the ACCC in providing job-oriented education to men and women of Kandahar and recognized the valued partnership between CIDA and the ACCC.

Martin explained, “Before we depart, CIDA wishes to take an opportunity to recognize the partnership and progress we have shared with you.” Although CIDA’s development mission in Kandahar is nearly complete and they will be moving on to Kabul, CIDA’s partnership with the ACCC will continue. On International Women’s Day 2011, the Government of Canada announced a $250,000 grant that will help the ACCC help a greater number of students while it moves toward self-sustainability.

ACCC students and teachers sign a banner of thanks for the Government of Canada

ACCC students, parents and teachers took this opportunity to give a surprise thank-you to CIDA for their ongoing support, presenting them with a friendship carpet and a thank-you banner signed by over 100 students and staff members. Ehsan presented these gifts to CIDA officials and gave a speech highlighting the importance of international friends such as CIDA in developing a peaceful and progressive Afghanistan.

Ehsan shared that, “Hundreds of us at the Afghan Canadian Community Center Kandahar are proud of the existing partnership and appreciative of your very generous humanitarian assistance in enabling many of us to be equipped with very valuable education that has helped many of us to live a better life.”

ACCC Celebrates International Women’s Day, Graduation of 240 Women

April 4th, 2011 2 comments
Ehsan, the Director of the Afghan Canadian Community Center, proudly issues graduation certificates to his students

Ehsan, the Director of the Afghan Canadian Community Center, proudly issues graduation certificates to his students

The Afghan-Canadian Community Center (ACCC) in Kandahar hosted a lively celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8th. Attendees included 600 diverse female students, along with representatives from various Kandahar-based organizations. The celebration included inspirational speeches, songs and poems about power and the passion of women.

A student delivering a speech

The ceremony also honoured the graduation of 240 female students who are now trained in leadership, business communication, Human Resources, Information and Computing Technology and English courses. Among the graduates were 50 Kandahar women who had studied with the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology’s online Business Management program.

Afghan Senator Ronal Tarin presenting students with their certificates

The speeches illuminated the achievements of women at ACCC, Afghanistan and all over the world. Slide shows featuring prominent international women and women’s rights champions were displayed at the ACCC Resource Centre.

The celebration provided a platform for women to express opinions about social and political issues. It also presented them with an ideal opportunity to speak with the community about women’s roles and contributions to society. Speakers addressed issues such as forced marriages, violence against women, and lack of access to education, employment and health care. They pledged to rid their communities of inequalities in decision making, complications during pregnancy, malnourishment, violence, and the many pressures that women face as a result of those abuses.

A view of the crowd that has gathered to celebrate International Women’s Day

The speakers praised the Afghan Canadian Community Center for its tangible and effective actions that are empowering women with education, knowledge and information within existing cultural and religious traditions in Kandahar. Senator Rona Tarin, Member of Afghanistan Senate, said, “ACCC’s services are unforgettable in helping the women of Kandahar. I would like to thank Mr. Ehsan, the teachers and the Canadians for supporting our sisters who are graduating today. This is real and tangible achievement towards women development and marking of the International Women Day.”

Senator Rona Tarin receiving a certificate of appreciation from the US-based International Women’s Rights Alliance

Zobida Paenda, the Director of Women Affairs said, “I am given a great hope to see so many women graduating ACCC today through which they are marking this important event. I urge all of you to get education. Education is power and light. Several ACCC graduates are working and supporting my Department through very useful administrative and computer technology skills.” She thanked Ehsan for his tireless efforts and the Canadians for their support to women’s education in Kandahar and called upon all those ACCC supporters to continue with their much-needed hard work and donations.

Zobida Paenda: “I urge all of you to get education. Education is power and light.”

Dr. Nasreen, Director of Mirwais Hospital praised ACCC efforts in building women capacity. She thanked the many supporters worldwide who strive to provide valuable education and employment opportunities to the vulnerable women of Kandahar.


Syed Rohani Agha, a community leader said, “Time is short and I want tell you in short. Prophet Mohammad was given birth by a woman and she has raised him. This means woman is noble and a great creature of God so it is incumbent upon all of us to respect woman and give her full rights including education, which Islam has given.” He said that the people of Kandahar were supporting Ehsan in his efforts to provide women valuable education within the cultural values of the people of Afghanistan.

Women attending ACCC graduation and IWD 2011

Ehsan, the Director of the Afghan Canadian Community Center, called on women to seek knowledge and information, even if it involves hardship. He emphasized that women are an integral part of humanity. Without women, humanity is only half complete or non-existent and only enlightened women can institute a peaceful and tolerant society and a better world.

Ehsan also announced several achievements, including a $250,000 grant approved by Canadian government through the Canadian International Development Agency for ACCC’s women students sustainable skill building, ACCC’s housing of a new academy in close partnership with the US-based National Educator Program, the launching of a US-based International Women’s Rights Alliance leadership and communication development program with a grant of $40,000 approved by the US State Department for 260 women students of ACCC and the enrolment of 20 more ACCC’s women students on Canada-based SAIT Polytechnic Institute online education program.

The event culminated with the presentation of certificates of achievement to all the participants who had contributed to ACCC, women rights and social services in Kandahar. ACCC also awarded certificates of appreciation to several of its prominent international partners and well wishers. The certificates were generously provided by US-based International Women Rights Alliance. The ACCC gave the participants gifts of clothes, school bags, stationery and teapots. The guests also enjoyed refreshments, all of which were arranged by the ACCC and its students’ contributions.

Ehsan distributing certificates of appreciation prepared by the International Women Rights Alliance

Local and international media representatives, including Kandahar Television, Hewad Television, Canadian Press, Al-Jazeera, Pajhwok, Radio Television of Afghanistan, Afghan Azada Radio and Associated Press, covered the event.

While this event has celebrated the hard work that ACCC, its partners and its students have put in over the past year, they all know that there is still much work to be done. They will continue to change their communities through the education of dedicated women who have the desire, need and drive to learn essential employment skills.

Ehsan, the Director of the Afghan Canadian Community Center, proudly issuing graduation certificates to his students

Director of Women’s Affairs Visits the ACCC, Pledges Support

January 13th, 2011 3 comments

The Afghan-Canadian Community Center (ACCC) celebrated the start of 2011 with an important milestone – the first official visit from Zubida Paenda, director of Women’s Affairs in Kandahar.

The director toured the school January 3rd to meet students and staff, and learn more about the curriculum offered in business, computing and language skills. After observing some of the classes in project management, computer sciences and human resources, Director Paenda was visibly impressed by the caliber of education as well as the impact on the students’ personal character.

“You are shining examples of what women can accomplish,” she told the students, discussing the role educated women can play in social reform. The director praised the ACCC as “a great success and a sign of a progressive Afghanistan”.

She further acknowledged the challenges involved in educating women in Afghanistan, and publicly thanked ACCC Director Ehsanullah Ehsan for his commitment to empower women and make them aware of their rights.

The students and staff of the ACCC applauded the director for her bravery and dedication in helping to address the challenges facing Afghan women and defend women’s rights.

Director Paenda also pledged her personal support to promote the work of the ACCC in future government forums.

Erin’s Army Run for the Afghan School Project

September 12th, 2010 3 comments

On September 19th, Erin Collins (a CanILF volunteer) will run the open all result skin yourself with those and?

Army Run 5K to benefit the Afghan School Project, which supports the Afghan-Canadian Community Centre (ACCC) in Kandahar. The ACCC teaches 1,800 students in Kandahar, over half of whom are women who attend free of charge. The ACCC teaches business and technology skills, and also operates the largest free computer lab in Afghanistan. It costs just $10 to send a student to school for one month, so please give generously. Visit her giving page here.

ACCC Celebrates Spring Graduation

June 1st, 2010 101 comments

Students, teachers, parents and community leaders gathered at the Afghan-Canadian Community Center (ACCC) on May 11th to celebrate the graduation of 79 students from various ACCC programs. 60 of the graduates were women, graduating from specially designed employment-oriented courses in fields such as Leadership, Business Communication and Human Resources. These women were applauded for their bravery and dedication in light of the challenges facing Afghan women.

ACCC Director Ehsanullah Ehsan addresses guests during graduation

The ACCC offers employment-focused education and training that ensures graduates have the skills they need for employment success in the city of Kandahar and throughout Afghanistan during this critical time of rebuilding. More than half of the ACCC budget is provided by the Government of Canada through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). The ACCC also benefits from ongoing partnerships with both the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) and the Canadian International Learning Foundation (CanILF).

The Deputy Governor of Kandahar Ghulam Jelani Hamayun, Director of Women’s Affairs Rona Tarin, Youth Affairs Manager Nisar Ahmad Arya, and other local community leaders attended the ceremony and expressed their pride in the students and school. After taking a tour of ACCC classrooms and speaking to students and teachers, they called the ACCC “a great success, and a sign of a progressive and peaceful Afghanistan.”

In addition to the women’s achievements, the ceremony also marked the graduation of 19 men from an English Language course that was offered in partnership with the American University of Afghanistan. During the ceremony, certificates were also awarded to six “Youth Champions of the Year”

in recognition of their achievements in education, sport, and literature. Three female students of the ACCC were among the youth award recipients.

ACCC student receives a certificate in recognition of her achievements

ACCC Director Ehsanullah Ehsan spoke at the ceremony about how the occassion represents the successes and achievements of the ACCC and of the students. In just four years, the school and its students have made impressive progress on important issues such as gender equality, capacity building, education and employment. Ehsan emphasized the courage and dedication of his female students for pursuing their education and succeeding despite the continued challenges that women face in Kandahar.

Ehsan also took the opportunity to thank Canadian donors, volunteers, and CIDA for their continued financial and administrative support. This was the first graduation ceremony to be held at the new ACCC Resource Center, a facility founded through donations made to the Canadian International Learning Foundation’s Afghan School Project. The Resource Center is large enough to accomodate 200 people and will be equipped with all of the furniture and technology necessary to serve as both an everyday research lab and as a public forum for student events. More than $15,000 has been raised for the ACCC’s Resource Center, and a further $10,000 is required for its completion.

The event was covered by local, national and international media, including Kandahar Television, Hewad Television, VOA Television (through Radio Television of Afghanistan), Shamshad Television, Surgar Weekly Newspaper,, Kalid Radio and Afghan Azada Radio.

Afghan-Canadian Community Center Celebrates International Women’s Day in Kandahar

March 20th, 2010 73 comments

International Women’s Day is celebrated every year on March 8th to mark the achievements of women around the world. It is a day to mark the great progress women have made, and also to make renewed commitments to combat gender inequality where it still exists.

At the Afghan-Canadian Community Center (ACCC), a school that grants women the right to education every day, the celebration of International Women’s Day is particularly significant. Staff, students, families, media and honourable guests gathered to celebrate and discuss the role of women in the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

Young girls singing at the Women’s Day Celebration

This year, many of the speeches highlighted the amazing progress made by Afghan women and touched on broad themes such as the role of women in Islam, the universal human rights of women, and the increasing employment options for women in Afghanistan.

Ehsan, the Director of the ACCC, made a passionate speech about the importance of education as the “backbone of a nation.” He praised his students for their bravery, saying: “I am impressed by the courage women have shown in this remote corner of the world where the female population is still threatened by ultra-conservative cultural attitudes, the poverty and the ongoing war.” He also noted that many women have been rewarded for their persistence and dedication with positions in the Afghan parliament, provincial councils, and other institutions involved in the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

Ehsan awards a certificate of achievement

Several guests of honour were in attendance, including the Deputy Governor of Kandahar, members of Afghanistan’s parliament, the Director of Women’s Affairs, the Director of Kandahar Women’s Council and a representative from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). The ACCC awarded certificates of achievement and gifts to several of the participants in recognition of their contributions to the ACCC and to the cause of women’s rights in Kandahar.

ACCC students address the crowd

Many of the ACCC staff and students are shining examples of what women can accomplish. They took this day to celebrate their achievements, to thank those who made it possible and to talk about the next steps for women in Afghanistan.

The participants enjoyed refreshments and received gifts of clothes, dictionaries and teapots courtesy of the Canadian Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) CIMIC Team, Kandahar Innovative Advertisements and the ACCC.

Vital English Donates 100 Months of English Training to ACCC, Other CanILF Partners

February 15th, 2010 38 comments

Vital English has generously donated 100 months of blended e-learning courses to the Canadian International Learning Foundation (CanILF) for the benefit of students at the Afghan-Canadian Community Center, as well as our developing program in Yemen.

Vital English is an e-Learning company which focuses on ESL (English as a Second Language) courses. Their diverse range of ESL courses enables educators and organizations to reach students in a manner best suited to their learning needs. They offer a wide range of courses from general English to English for Specific Purposes (such as Information Technology and Business), offering a ‘white label’ solution that carries the branding of the organizations using their materials.

The courses provided by Vital English will help to improve ESL training at our partner schools, help students in Afghanistan and Yemen obtain specialized employment, and enable students of all fields to conduct more effective research over the Internet. Vital English has a range of partners including the University of Cambridge who use their services for their online version of the IELTS and BULATS test preparation courses.

Students at the Afghan-Canadian Community Center who would like to study ESL with Vital English should inform their teacher of their interest.

“Canada and Afghanistan: Keeping Our Promises” to Benefit the Afghan School Project

January 26th, 2010 23 comments

Please join The Free Thinking Film Society at the National Archives (395 Wellington) on March 9th for “Canada and Afghanistan: Keeping Our Promises”, a presentation of the Canada-Afghanistan Solidarity Committee’s vision for Canada’s re-dedication to the cause of Afghan reconstruction, human rights and democracy, post-2011.

CASC will be presenting a variety of Afghan and Canadian speakers and a panel discussion. Please check back soon for details.

After the speeches and panel discussion, there will then be a cocktail reception – which will serve as a fundraiser for Afghan-Canadian Community Center (“The Afghan School Project“) in Kandahar. Canadian International Learning Foundation volunteers will be on hand to meet with you and share some of our students’ stories of studying in Afghanistan.

Please join us for this very important event – and in the process, help Afghan men and women receive life-changing education.

Admission is $30, $15 for students. The event runs from 7:00 to 10:30 pm. To RSVP via facebook, please click here.

Tickets can be purchased online here:

CASC Event Tickets:

Note: If you purchase tickets online, you will not receive a physical ticket. We will keep a list of ticket holders and check photo ID at the door.

Or you can purchase tickets from the following retail outlets:

Ottawa Folklore Centre
1111 Bank Street
Ottawa, ON K1S 3X4
(613) 730-2887

Compact Music
190 Bank Street
Ottawa, ON K2P 1W8
(613) 233-7626

Compact Music
785 1/2 Bank Street
Ottawa, Ont
K1S 3V5
(613) 233-8922

Kandahar Graduation a Landmark Achievement for Afghan Women

November 30th, 2009 59 comments
An ACCC student delivers a graduation speech

An ACCC student delivers a graduation speech

On November 2nd, 2009 a landmark ceremony was held in Kandahar to celebrate the graduation of 140 female students from the Afghan-Canadian Community Center (ACCC). The ceremony was attended by over 350 guests including teachers, parents, students, prominent members of the local community and media, and representatives of the Afghan and Canadian governments.

Among the graduates were ten students who completed a two-year Business Management Program provided online through a partnership with the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT). These ten students also received certificates, signed by the Prime Minister of Canada and presented by Jess Dutton, Acting Representative of Canada in Kandahar (RoCK), to mark their achievements in business management, computer technology and English language training. The ceremony also celebrated the graduation of a further sixteen students from the SAIT program upon completion of a Project Management course.

Jess Dutton Presents ACCC Students With Certificates Signed by the Prime Minister of Canada

Jess Dutton presents ACCC students with certificates signed by the Prime Minister of Canada

Mr. Dutton recognized the hard work and dedication of the SAIT students under challenging circumstances, noting that the students’ achievements were an inspiration to Afghans and Canadians alike. He further encouraged the students to use their education to give back to their community in Kandahar, and their nation of Afghanistan.

The accomplishments of these students and the ACCC are significant, particularly considering they took place in a country that is still trying to recover from conflict and amidst the threats of a narrow minority who oppose women’s education. This achievement was further recognized in several speeches by local employers, who thanked the ACCC for raising the overall standard of education for women in Kandahar.

The graduating class of SAIT students at the ACCC

The graduating class of SAIT students at the ACCC

Bibi Zhilla, a graduating student from the SAIT program, spoke on behalf of her class about what it felt like to graduate from an international learning program. She thanked ACCC Director Ehsanullah Ehsan and her many teachers for their support and encouragement throughout the two year program and noted how the program instilled a confidence in herself and her fellow students, along with the many practical skills that they learned.

She assured the crowd that: “…the end of this course is just one of the many great accomplishments I hope to achieve in my life. Graduation from this course is just the beginning of a new flight for all of us and from this day onward everyone tries to work harder and participate in the reconstruction of the country.”

Shamim, another graduating SAIT student, noted the significance of the Prime Minister’s signature upon the certificates, which she felt clearly demonstrated the importance placed by the people of Canada on empowering the people of Afghanistan with the gift of education. The Government of Canada provides most of the operating budget of the ACCC via a capacity-building grant administered by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

ACCC Director Ehsanullah Ehsan and CIDA Development Officer Karine Landry

ACCC Director Ehsanullah Ehsan and CIDA Development Officer Karine Landry

The Deputy Governor of Kandahar spoke during the ceremony, emphasizing that “Canadian investment in education is truly building us. Education can really help us a secure a better future.” He further noted that the ACCC could be proud of its many remarkable accomplishments.

The Director of Information and Culture, whose own daughters were in the graduating class, also spoke of his pride in the women’s achievements and asked the graduates to “…make the best of the knowledge you received for the betterment of yourselves and the people of Afghanistan.” Many speeches personally thanked ACCC Director Ehsanullah Ehsan for his tireless efforts, as well as the ACCC’s many teachers and supporters in Kandahar, Canada and around the world.

In his speech, Ehsan thanked Canadian donors, volunteers, and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) for their considerable support. He noted that Canadian support has been not only financial but had also provided invaluable expertise and guidance which was helping the ACCC move toward self-sustainability. He also thanked his female students for the courage and dedication they’ve shown, despite the many challenges that women in Afghanistan still face. He praised the brave example they have set for future classes of women.

ACCC Director Ehsanullah Ehsan Delivers His Graduation Speech

ACCC Director Ehsanullah Ehsan delivers his speech

The ACCC awarded certificates of appreciation on behalf of SAIT and the Canadian International Learning Foundation to 19 Kandahar journalists from a diverse range of news agencies and networks for their promotion and media coverage of education efforts in Kandahar. Graduates expressed their appreciation with handmade gifts to CIDA and SAIT staff members, CanILF volunteers, and Ehsan and his family.

The event was also covered by local, national and international media, including Kandahar Television, Larawbar, Pajhwok News (English / Pashto),  Benawa Online Pashto World, Surgar Weekly Newspaper (First Story, Second Story), ReliefWeb, Benawa,  and the MILNEWS Canada blog.

Afghan Girls Sing at the ACCC Graduation

Afghan girls sing at the ACCC graduation