Adolfo P. Esquivel
Al Gore
Alice Walker
Amitabha Sadangi
Anderson Cooper
Andrew Young
Ann Cotton
Annie Lennox
Arun Gandhi
Bart Weetjens
Benazir Bhutto
Betty Williams
Bianca Jagger
Bill Cosby
Bill Drayton
Bishop C.F.X. Belo
Bob Geldof
Bunker Roy
Carlos Santana
César E. Chávez
Chief L. George
Christ. Amanpour
Clarence B. Jones
Colin Powell
Connie Duckworth
Coretta Scott King
Craig Kielburger
Dalai Lama
Daniel Lubetzky
David Brower
David Ho
David Trimble
Desmond Tutu
Dith Pran
Dolores Huerta
Don Cheadle
Dorothy Height
Dorothy Stoneman
Elie Wiesel
Eric Schwarz
Frederik W de Klerk
Gary Cohen
Geoffrey Canada
George Clooney
George Lucas
George Mitchell
Gérard Jean-Juste
Gillian Caldwell
Greg Boyle
Greg Mortenson
Hafsat Abiola
Harry G. Belafonte
Harry Wu
Helen Caldicott
Henry A. Kissinger
Ida Jackson
Immaculee Ilibagiza
Ingrid Betancourt
Ingrid W. El-Issa

Sakeena Yacoobi


Sakeena YacoobiSakeena Yacoobi is passionate about two things: Afghanistan and the importance of a good education. Combining those passions, Yacoobi founded the Afghan Institute of Learning in 1995 in an attempt to increase literacy rates and improve the overall level of education in her home country. Not only has the undertaking been enormous, it has been dangerous as well. During the six years the Taliban was in control, militants targeted schools and any individuals who appeared to be influenced by Western culture. Yacoobi didn't blink an eye at risking herself though, she was willing to sacrifice anything necessary for the greater good, including her own life. Born in Herat, Afghanistan and raised by parents who encouraged her to pursue her education, a rarity for young women in the region, Yacoobi has understood and valued learning her entire life. The past eight years since the fall of the Taliban, Yacoobi has had more freedom and opportunity to grow the Institute and increase the reach that it has in the Middle East. Although the Taliban's official reign is over, the violence has not completely stopped and the risk of being a teacher in Afghanistan is almost as great as the risk of going into the military. Yacoobi has traveled around the world, but specifically to the United States, in recent years to talk to leaders, including Presidents Clinton and Bush, about refocusing financial resources on education rather than war. The recipient of Gruber Prize for Women's Rights and a nominee (along with, collectively, 1,000 women) for the Nobel Peace Prize, Yacoobi is recognized as one of the principal educators in Afghanistan today.


"Education is the key issue. It's linked with poverty. If you have an educated society, you will manage to have skills and jobs and finances. We need long-term education, quality education. Billions of dollars have poured into Afghanistan, but if you don't educate people, you are wasting your time and you are wasting your money."

"When I was (a girl) in Afghanistan, my father could have married me to someone. I had many people come to ask for my hand. But my father asked me, 'Do you want to marry or do you want to study?' And I said, 'I want to study.' He said, 'As long as you want to study, I let you.'"


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