Bringing Education & Opportunity to Afghanistan

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As CEO of, I want to update you on the progress of the Afghan Development Initiative that we are so excited to be a part of; see our original announcement here.

Over the past 5 months has been one of the partners working with Film Annex in a remarkable project that will eventually provide internet access to 160,000 women and children in war-torn Afghanistan.  To date we’ve connected 4 schools and now over 18,500 students have online access.  Our long-term goal is to connect 1,000 schools with 4 million students.

What does this mean to the Afghan people? To these children and their families, it’s more than just sending a cartoon or a joke.  It’s giving these students the opportunity to learn about the world outside their region, to educate, and make a positive impact in their lives.  By connecting schools and teaching children how to access information, use social and digital media to communicate and share their lives, we can get a glimpse into the challenge of struggling to survive in a war-ravaged country.  Providing internet access in schools is a great way to monitor progress and assist in stabilizing Afghanistan and strengthening the economic infrastructure.

We have the privilege of working with Francesco Rulli, founder and President of Film Annex as well as Roya Mahboob,  founder and CEO of Afghan Citadel Services, the IT company heading up the Afghan Development Initiative.

Ms. Mahboob believes that the Afghan Development Initiative is the opportunity to “show the world the new faces of Afghanistan.”  Connecting Afghan schools to the outside world and teaching the students (especially girls) important skills such as computer programming, will provide job opportunities and “show everybody that men and women are equal…”.

Our progress so far has been has been steady with an average of about 1 school per month being connected to the outside world.  These schools are just the beginning:

  • April 25, 2012, Baghnazargah School – 4,000 students
  • May 23, 2012, Houz-e-Karbas High School – 4,000 students
  • June 26, 2012, Hatifi High School – 8,300 students
  • August 13, 2012, Qowaye Chahar Zarehdar School – 2,250 students

All too often, we pass by opportunities to make a difference in the world.  We’re told we can’t rescue everyone, but just like the story of the guy who throws the starfish back into the ocean, we can make a difference.  In this case, we have the tremendous opportunity to eventually empower and improve the lives of millions of people, not only in Afghanistan, but worldwide.

One of the important lessons for us, is that the Afghan Development Initiative is not about politics or religion.  What it IS about, is taking the opportunity to empower women and children in third world countries and enable them to create a better life for themselves.

Through our work with Film Annex, the Afghan Development Initiative and other like-minded organizations, is dedicated to helping make a better world through digital technology and education.

-Daniel Yomtobian