CRCC and Afghan Girls Financial Assistance Fund Partnership.
CRCC has worked in partnership with Afghan Girls Financial Assistance Fund (AGFAF) since 2010, shortly after AGFAF pioneer Shamila Kohestani arrived at Drew University. In the fall of 2011, CRCC hosted AGFAF when the the organization dedicated to helping Afghan women gain access to education held their inaugural Afghan Girls Leadership Retreat on Drew’s campus. CRCC is proud to announce a new program, providing free TOEFL Exam tutoring to students in Afghanistan who are seeking to pursue university studies in the United States. For many of these students, the TOEFL represents a tremendous challenge, right at the outset of their educational odyssey. Drew University undergraduate and graduate students are employing a variety of web-based distance-learning tools – they are also donating their time – to deliver greatly needed one-to-one coaching for the TOEFL exam. CRCC is partnering with the Star Education School in Kabul and AGFAF, including AGFAF scholarship recipient, Zainab Yousofi, to help identify Afghan students with the dream of studying in America and the desire to work hard to realize this dream.
The partnership was celebrated when CRCC honored AGFAF at our Inaugural Gala Dinner, March 31, 2014.
November 4-6, 2016.
Two dozen students from Afghanistan, now studying at universities throughout the US, gathered again at Drew University for their annual meeting. Attending was Drew’s own undergraduate and CRCC intern Bahara Mohammadi, a AGFAF student who is currently enrolled in the Drew Seminar Global Peacebuilding and Interfaith Leadership.
The retreat featured an inspiring presentation by Mount Holyoke College student Sajia Darwish, who has completed a project to build a library at her former high school in Afghanistan. On Darwish’s motivation, and her negotiations to build the Baale Parwaz Library, Farsi for “wings to fly,” click here.
Drew students continue to support AGFAF’s efforts though an online TOEFL tutoring program for students in Afghanistan.
During the Columbus Day weekend, over 20 students from Afghanistan, now studying at universities throughout the US, came together at Drew University for their annual meeting. One of CRCC’S long-term partners, AGFAF seeks to empower young Afghan women who are committed to working for gender equality and improving life in Afghanistan by providing them with educational opportunities. The first Afghan woman to study in the U.S. through the efforts of AGFAF was Drew graduate and original CRCC Fellow, Shamila Kohestani (C’12), who also played a key role in organizing AGFAF’s inaugural conference at Drew in 2011. At CRCC’s Inaugural Gala in 2014, AGFAF co-founder Leo Motiuk accepted the CRCC Peacebuilder Award on behalf of the not-for-profit. Today, Drew students continue to support AGFAF’s efforts though an online TOEFL tutoring program for students in Afghanistan.
One Friday evening, the young Afghan women were joined by Drew students for a dinner discussion. Said CRCC Fellow Leah Nadel (C’18), “I was impressed by their resilience, positive attitude, and optimism. It is quite clear that these are young women that are going to bring about tremendous change in the region.”
MADISON,NJ – Shamila Kohestani (Drew C’12) is running around trying to figure out the details for the retreat that the Center on Religion Culture and Conflict (CRCC) is hosting on September 23-25 at Drew University. The excitement is growing as the dates get closer because this is the first retreat for the Afghan Girls Financial Assistance Fund (AGFAF). AGFAF (also known as the “Fund”) was established in 2008 and it started because of Kohestani, an international student from Afghanistan. When Kohestani came to the U.S.to attend Blair Academy Boarding high school in Blairstown N.J. her tuition and room and board were covered by Blair. However, Kohestani had no funds to cover any personal expenses like airplane fares, transportation, health insurance, to name but a few. Kohestani’s financial struggles were brought to the attention of Leo Motiuk, the father of Alex Motiuk who attended Blair with Kohestani. Resultantly, Leo Motiuk started this foundation to financially assist Kohestani and Afghan girls like her.
AGFAF’s mission is to aid young Afghan women who seek a college education in the United States. On their website it states “The Fund identifies promising young women, matches them with participating educational institutions and American host families and provides financial support to defray expenses not covered by either these institutions or host families. These women often need additional secondary education before starting at a college or university. The Fund also provides assistance at this level.”
In order to visit their families, maintain cultural ties and engage in projects with the purpose to share their education while back home, the Fund also provides round trip transportation to recipients to Afghanistan each summer. AGFAF’s first retreat is being made possible with support from Drew University’s CRCC.
The retreat aims to introduce all the girls who have been supported by AGFAF to date; some of the girls will meet one another for the first time since they have joined the organization. There are 15-20 Afghan girls who are currently helped by the Fund that are planning on attending the retreat. “It is a great opportunity for these girls to get together, I personally don’t know most of these girls because all of us live in different parts of Afghanistan and also attend different colleges in the US” said Khoestani.
Each of these Afghan girls is working back in Afghanistan, and every girl will present their work and results during this retreat. “It is great to be able to communicate with each other regarding our current projects” said Kohestani. At this retreat, they will be able to share their inspirational projects.
“I’m very happy to be at Drew University. I had such a great experience studying here for the past 3 years and I am really excited for my last year at Drew. I am greatly thankful for everything Drew has provided me and also for giving me this opportunity to continue my college education. This retreat is extremely important for the Fund and I really appreciate Drew and CRCC for supporting it” said Kohestani.