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ACCC Director Receives Honourary Degree from SAIT

June 5th, 2009 26 comments

honorary-degree

ACCC Director Ehsanullah Ehsan receives an honourary degree from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology

Ehsanullah Ehsan, Director of the Afghan-Canadian Community Center, was awarded an honourary degree by the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology on June 2nd in recognition of his contribution to women’s education and human rights in Kandahar. In his acceptance speech, Ehsan delivered a moving tribute to those who had helped him to create the Afghan-Canadian Community Center:

“Through the support provided by SAIT, the Government of Canada and the Canadian people, we have given people hope for a better future. We have created what has been called ‘an oasis of decency and civility’ – a place where women and men alike can go to discuss, explore, understand and learn. The sight of beautiful Afghan girls glued to computers and books at the Centre is a symbol of the drastic social change taking root in Afghanistan. Everyone at SAIT should be very proud of what they have helped to create.

You – the great people of Canada – have shown incredible generosity in supporting my country and my educational initiatives. Individual donors and the Government of Canada have made significant contributions through the Canadian International Learning Foundation’s Afghan School Project, and through the Canadian International Development Agency. With this generous support, we are proudly moving the Afghan Canadian Community Centre – and the people of Afghanistan – toward self-sustainability and gender equality.”

ehsan-delivers-speech
Ehsanullah Ehsan delivers his acceptance speech

He also had his own words of wisdom to pass along to the SAIT graduating class of 2009:

“By receiving the knowledge imparted to you by your teachers, you have been entrusted with a sacred gift, one that few people in this world have the opportunity to receive. The importance of this knowledge cannot be over stated – it empowers men and women alike to support themselves, their families, and improve their community. Knowledge is the backbone of society, and the key to peace and prosperity.

I hope that you will use this gift to realize your dreams – and to help others realize theirs. As one of the keepers of the sacred gift of knowledge, you have a remarkable opportunity to share this gift and, by doing so, to save humanity from the threat of oppression, war and deprivation. I urge you, as citizens of the world, to use this knowledge not only to benefit yourselves, but to also create hope for those who would learn, if only given the chance.”

To view the speech in its entirety, please click here.

Ehsan also collected certificates on behalf of the ACCC students studying at SAIT, who were unable to make the trip to Canada for security reasons. Ehsan has since returned to Kandahar, and will soon be holding a ceremony to present the first cohort of SAIT students with their academic certificates.

Ehsan’s visit to Calgary was covered by numerous media outlets, including Global National, the Toronto Star, CBC, the Calgary Sun, the Calgary Herald, Canada AM, and the Winnipeg Free Press.

The Afghan School Project would like to thank everyone at SAIT, CIDA, and the Government of Canada who made his visit possible. To help us offer life-changing education to a greater number of women in Kandahar, please Donate.

SAIT Polytechnic Welcomes Director of Afghan-Canadian Community Center to Calgary

June 1st, 2009 9 comments

First-of-its-kind project provides Afghan women with online access to SAIT education

June 1, 2009, Calgary, Alberta — Calgary, Alberta may be a long way from his home in Afghanistan, but Ehsanullah Ehsan will be at SAIT Polytechnic’s June 1st and 2nd graduation ceremonies to represent 12 female Afghan graduands unable to make the trek due to safety concerns.

Ehsan’s journey began with a vision to provide women in Afghanistan with something they never thought possible – an education. “We need to make every effort possible to ensure humanity has access to justice, education, love, freedom and prosperity,” said Ehsan, Director for the Afghan-Canadian Community Centre. “We should speak out and do what is required to ensure that men, women, boys and girls have free and open access to education. This should be done not only out of personal interest, but for the shared interests of humanity as a whole.”

Part of Ehsan’s vision became a reality through the Afghan School Project and online distance courses SAIT provides to females in Afghanistan who have had the courage to seek education while living in a country infamous for oppression of women.

“The courses these students studied were selected to provide the skills and knowledge that are in the greatest demand for the reconstruction and development of the Kandahar area,” says Gord Nixon, SAIT’s Vice President Academic. “The Afghan women will each receive the Business Management certificate for completing courses in project management, organizational behaviour, financial accounting, leadership development, human resource management and financial management.”

In 2007, the Afghan School Project, with the help of SAIT and financial donors, opened the Afghan-Canadian Community Centre in Kandahar with just two volunteers and 100 students, including the 12 women taking SAIT’s online program. Despite persecutions, threats, political turmoil, and an ultra-conservative culture that discourages educational opportunities for women, the school, which offers courses in business management, computing, health care and English as a Second Language, has grown to service more than 700 students. The Afghan-Canadian Community Centre is the only school in its area that offers vocational training for women.

“The Russians left for us arms and dumps of ammunition from which we have been suffering for decades. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban left for us the culture of extremism, terrorism, narrow-mindedness and suicides. But you – the great, the peaceful, the most generous Canadians – are leaving us with enlightenment,” says Ehsan.

About SAIT

SAIT Polytechnic has maintained close association with business and industry to ensure graduate success since 1916. SAIT offers 67 certificate, diploma, and applied degree programs as well as 33 apprenticeship programs, 300 distance education courses and 1,800 continuing education and corporate training courses. SAIT has delivered training in 30 countries around the world and has 79,000 course and program registrations each year. SAIT is a proud member of Polytechnics Canada.

Share the Love with the Afghan School Project

April 6th, 2009 No comments

The Canadian International Learning Foundation is a nominee in divine.ca’s Share the Love program.

Through Share the Love, we will receive a minimum donation of $500, and you can help us earn an even larger donation – a total of $5,000 per category is available! Proceeds will support the Afghan-Canadian Community Center via the Afghan School Project.

Here’s how to help: Go to www.divine.ca/sharethelove (or click the Vote button below) and cast your vote for the Canadian International Learning Foundation in the International category. No registration is required!

The final number of votes cast for us will determine how much of an additional donation divine.ca will award our organization. You can vote once a day for the duration of the voting period which runs from April 6 to May 15, 2009. Also, please consider sharing this article with family and friends who might also be willing to vote for us.

Thank you so much for your ongoing support – it is deeply appreciated by myself, our volunteers and our students!

Best Regards,

Ryan Aldred
President
The Canadian International Learning Foundation

Afghan-Canadian Community Center Celebrates International Women’s Day

March 26th, 2009 No comments

March 8th was the 101st anniversary of the first International Women’s Day, and the Afghan-Canadian Community Centre (ACCC) commemorated the occasion in style. Students and teachers delivered speeches to mark the occasion, with over 400 female ACCC students in attendance. The ACCC was also honoured by the presence of several Afghan and Canadian politicians and dignitaries, as well as members of the local and international media, and footage of the event was shown on CNN, Kandahar Television and Hewad Television.

As the leading centre for women’s education in Kandahar, the ACCC plays an important role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. ACCC Director Ehsanullah Ehsan delivered a speech praising the Afghan women “who are sacrificing for a peaceful and violence-free Afghanistan.” In just over two years, over 1,000 women have received an education under Ehsan’s direction that would have been unthinkable in Afghanistan a decade ago.

Several of the students gave speeches that highlighted the achievements of women in Kandahar and throughout the country. Thus far, over 90 female ACCC students have been hired by non-governmental organizations, development agencies and the Afghan government. Groups of students sang national songs and awards were given to students who have made a special contribution to the ACCC and the development of women’s rights. Globes were also presented to the students as gifts.

In honour of International Women’s Day, the Afghan Wireless Communication Company donated ten Internet-enabled SIM cards to the ACCC. In addition, Rohullah and Sultan Agha generously donated $1,000 towards program expenses at the school. Both of these donations will go a long way in helping the ACCC continue to provide education and Internet access to the women of Kandahar at no charge.

Following the ceremonies, all guests were invited to a potluck meal prepared by some of the ACCC’s students. Several students had prepared rice and others provided fruit and beverages. The refreshments provided were greatly appreciated by those in attendance.

The ACCC’s International Women’s Day ceremonies provided an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of Afghan women, and to recognize the challenges that still lie ahead. In the words of Mr. Ehsan, only “action without personal interest can bring not only the female population, but the entire nation of Afghanistan, a brighter future.”

Students and prominent women from across Kandahar attend the ACCC's International Women's Day celebrations

Students and prominent women from across Kandahar attend the ACCC's International Women's Day celebrations

A group of Afghan girls sing in celebration of International Women's Day

A group of Afghan girls sing in celebration of International Women's Day

Rona Tarin, Director of Women's Affairs in Kandahar, delivers a speech at the International Women's Day ceremonies

Rona Tarin, Director of Women's Affairs in Kandahar, delivers a speech at the International Women's Day ceremonies

Ehsan Ullah delivers a speech at the ACCC's International Women's Day ceremonies

Ehsan Ullah delivers a speech at the ACCC's International Women's Day Ceremonies

Alliance for International Women’s Rights Provides ESL Training to ACCC Students

March 19th, 2009 16 comments

The Afghan Canadian Community Center (ACCC) is pleased to partner with the Alliance for International Women’s Rights to further improve its English-language training program through the introduction of online English as a Second Language (ESL) training.

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the mission to support the development of female leaders in developing countries, particularly in Central Asia. They match women in Central Asia to skilled professionals in developed countries who wish to use their skills and experience to further women’s education.

The ESL program is one of the Alliance’s Armchair Volunteer Programs, which take advantage of free Internet-based communication technology to help open the world to women in developing countries through long-distance volunteers. These volunteers bring their experience and professional skills to help build local capacity for women’s rights organizations, women politicians, women educators, and girls who have the potential to become future women leaders.

The English language training uses Skype, a Voice-over-IP (VoIP) application, to connect students and teachers on a one-to-one basis. These pairings will usually conduct two hour-long conversational English classes per week. Its focus on live instruction with native English speakers will be highly valuable for students at the ACCC.

By improving their English skills, Afghan women and girls can more easily reach out to the international community for information, advice and funding, as well as share their experiences with the rest of the world. This training will also help students develop the skills required to obtain high-paying employment and contribute to the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan.

The partnership will provide personalized training for seven students at the ACCC. Should the program prove effective, the AIWR and the ACCC will consider further expanding the number of participants.

Personal Reflections: Grateful Student Says “Thank You” to ACCC Director

March 3rd, 2009 No comments

The Afghan School Project is proud to share a letter sent by Hamida, a former student now studying in India, to Ehsanullah Ehsan, Director of the Afghan-Canadian Community Center. This letter shows the way that the gift of education can truly change someone’s life, and how our students truly appreciate the vital assistance provided by our donors. On behalf of our students, thank you for your continued support.

I do not know where to begin, but I do know that you are the best. You have been working very hard to improve the education level in Afghanistan, teaching not only the English language, but also subjects rarely taught here, such as Human Rights and Women’s Rights. It is wonderful that you provide education specifically for girls in an area which was the center of the Taliban regime and female education was banned. Still, the security situation is not good yet, especially for girls to go outside and get an education. Every moment you are taking a risk, but I know you are working day and night to make women aware of their rights and educate the youth, especially the girls, in different programs like Business Management, Computer Skills and English.

I am one of those girls who have learned the English language directly from you and some of the computer programs you provide. Because of the English instruction I received from your school, I am doing my B.A. in India and am ranked fourth in my class of more than 100 students. Everything I am able to accomplish is because of you. Hedayatullah Rahmati, my classmate, is the first-ranked student in our course, and he also studied English and computers under your supervision.

“Stars like you, Mr. Ehsan, will take the place of moon.” Hopefully we can find more people like you, Mr. Ehsan. In political science, Lord Morley has called the prime minister “First among equals,” but I want to give this title to you, for spreading enlightenment in such a difficult, illiterate, backward and strict area of Afghanistan.

You have educated thousands upon thousands of students in the fields of English language, Management and Computers, both in Pakistan as well as Afghanistan, and most of them are in much better positions and places now, just because of your hard work, management skills, and the sincere feeling which you have inside for the helpless Afghans.

In every education center where you have worked as a leader, director or teacher you have brightened that place. For a long time, I was wondering how to show my appreciation for you. Finally, after visiting the site of the ACCC, I have the opportunity to write something about you. What I have written, though, can barely express my appreciation. You are a light of peace and motivation for the progress of people, especially women and girls, in Afghanistan.

Thanks for everything,

With lots of love and respect,

Wishing you all the best and praying for your further success,

By Hamdia Hamdard a scholar Student of B.A (program) final year in Jamia Millia Islamia University and a member of INDO-AFGHAN YOUTH FORUM initiated by WISCOMP (Women in Security, Conflict Management) engaging the Youths of the two countries on issues of peace building and conflict transformation.

Education Generation Hosts ACCC Student Profiles, Brings Together Students and Donors

February 18th, 2009 No comments

Education Generation has agreed to host a number of our students’ profiles on their website to help raise funds for students at the Afghan-Canadian Community Center (ACCC). Education Generation is a group committed to bridging the gap between supporters and students using technology.

Education Generation believes education is a fundamental right, a powerful force to break the cycle of poverty, and key to building a future of hope and understanding. They seek to provide access to funds for motivated, hard-working students – not handouts. Through their website, donors can search for and sponsor individual students with almost no overhead costs. Apart from payment processing fees, 100% of all donations go directly to the students.

Ali Raza, the first ACCC student to have his profile posted, has already received all the funding he requires for this school year. Four more ACCC student profiles have been posted, with more to follow in the coming weeks.

In addition to the ACCC, Education Generation has sponsored students in Peru, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Kenya. So far, since August 2008, Education Generation has funded 74 students at the high school and post-secondary level.

Donations made to ACCC students through Education Generation will not only allow those specific students to attend school in Kandahar, but will also help fund the women’s education programs at the ACCC. Proceeds from the Men’s Program at the school are used to help subsidize the cost of the Women’s Program. All women’s courses at the ACCC are provided to students at no charge.

Canada eSchool to sponsor courses for ACCC students

January 28th, 2009 2 comments

Canada eSchool has generously agreed to sponsor eight online courses for students at the Afghan-Canadian Community Center (ACCC). The courses will include subjects such as English, Science, Health, Math, and Civics, and are accredited by the Ministry of Education in Ontario, Canada. Not only will the eSchool’s classes provide valuable education for ACCC students, they are also accepted by Universities and Colleges in Canada and around the world.

The courses offered by eSchool are very flexible, offer continuous enrolment, and can be accessed from anywhere at any time, making them ideal for students on the other side for the world. Programs such as this make it possible for students in Kandahar to get access to education that they would otherwise be unable to receive. This kind of education enables students to obtain valuable jobs with local and international employers and allows them to give back to their community.

Canada eSchool has also agreed to provide further courses to ACCC students at significantly discounted rates. The Afghan School Project is proud to partner with the ACCC to sponsor students in Kandahar for this unique opportunity. To help, please visit our Donate page.

Together with their affiliate school, Canada eSchool is one of Canada’s largest private online learning programs for international secondary students, and provides courses which are accepted by Universities and Colleges in Canada and around the world. The initial group of ACCC students is expected to begin their classes by mid-February.

Canadian PRT Donates More Than 700 Books to ACCC

December 2nd, 2008 No comments

From February to November 2008, the Canadian Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) donated more than 700 books to the growing library of the Afghan-Canadian Community Center (ACCC). The books were generously provided by Canadian citizens and cover a wide range of subjects and genres, from math and science textbooks to short stories and novels. These books will be kept in the school’s library, and will be accessible to all 700 women and men studying at the Afghan-Canadian Community Center.

The library and the other facilities used by the Afghan-Canadian Community Center are funded through a grant provided by the Government of Canada and administered by the Canadian International Development Agency, and through private donations to the Afghan School Project. These books provide an invaluable link to our shared knowledge of the world, and are greatly appreciated by our students. I hope you will join me in expressing our sincere thanks for this precious gift from generous Canadians.


ACCC Director Ehsan Ullah and students eagerly look through the books provided by the Canadian PRT

Ehsan Ullah delivers assistance from Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan to victims of recent attack

November 17th, 2008 2 comments

Ehsan Ullah, Director of the Afghan-Canadian Community Center, has delivered financial assistance on behalf of Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan to victims of the recent acid attack against students of the Mirwais Nika Girls High School. The financial assistance will be put towards the victims’ medical and transportation expenses.

Ehsan is working with Rona Tarin, Director of the shorter its The are like.

Womens Affairs Department, to determine how best to assist those affected by the attack. Members of the Afghan School Project were also involved with the co-ordination of the financial assistance.

I hope that you will join me in expressing our deepest condolences to those affected by this attack. I would also like to recognize the courage of all those

who continue to attend their studies under such difficult circumstances. We look forward to the day when the women of Kandahar can attend school safely, without fear of violence.