In a recent commencement speech at Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, California, Dr. Sakena Yacoobi urged graduates to “reach out to others and give a gift to yourself.” Dr. Yacoobi leads by example; as the founder of the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL), she has built her life around reaching out to others. She started AIL in 1996 in the face of the Taliban regime, building underground schools for her fellow countrywomen at great personal risk. The organization now serves over 350,000 women in Afghanistan and Pakistan, empowering them through education. Dr. Yacoobi carries that message of education across borders through her speaking engagements worldwide, sharing her experiences in Afghanistan with the global community.
In recognition of this, just last week, Dr. Yacoobi was awarded the 2010 Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights. As she herself has said, “Health and literacy are keys to human rights, empowerment and self sufficiency.” AIL imparts basic literacy and health education to the women in its programs, as well as providing them with income-generating skills such as the development and sale of handicrafts featuring intricate Afghan embroidery. Through the production of embroidered bookmarks and clutches, these women gain the economic security needed to break free from their repressive circumstances.
It is easy to incorporate Dr. Yacoobi’s inspirational philosophy of outreach and giving into daily life. By simply choosing to support the work of organizations through socially-conscious consumption, global connections can be formed that are rewarding for all involved.
For more on Dr. Yacoobi’s work, visit: http://www.creatinghope.org/sakenayacoobibiograpy