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Ayni Blog Relaunch!

We’ve gained traction in the girls’ education space and want to engage our readers in conversation about the critical topics facing Afghanistan’s girls and women.


As a part of our effort to further promote access to quality education for girls in Afghanistan, we are revitalizing our blog to provide a better understanding of how our organization operates in Afghanistan and highlight our strategic responses to the ever changing realities of a conflict zone. Here you will find anything from thought-pieces about the innovative connection between architecture and poverty eradication along with insights from both Afghan and US based student interns. Strategies for possible interventions of early marriage as well as ways to continue bridging the digital divide will also be featured.

So come engage with us and learn more, not only about the great work we are doing in Afghanistan, but about the people who make it happen and our goals for the future.

Save the Date: Ayni’s Fall Event November 20, 2014

eliza-newAyni Education International will be hosting our second annual event this fall on November 20, 2014. This year the event will take place at The Foundry in Seattle, Washington. We are pleased to announce that poet and war correspondent Eliza Griswold, published in The New York Times, The New Yorker and other media outlets, will be our featured speaker. Eliza is currently teaching at Princeton University and recently published the book, “I am the Beggar of the World: Landays from Contemporary Afghanistan.” Learn more here.

Be on the look out for more information about the Ayni fall event as the date nears and send any questions to or call us at (206) 331- 3786. For more on Eliza Griswold, check out her website or her recent New York Times article on U.S. Special Forces in Africa and the roots of extremism here.

Architect Dave Miller to Serve as Principal Architect for Gohar Khaton Girls’ School: A Tribute to Partner Robert Hull

dave1We are pleased to announce that as tribute to his partner and dear friend, Robert Hull, architect David Miller of Miller/Hull Partnership has agreed to serve as the Principal Architect for the Gohar Khaton Girls’ School project. Miller steps in at an especially critical phase as the final design elements are put into place for the school’s completion targeted for next fall.

Robert Hull began his career as a Peace Corps volunteer in Afghanistan in 1968 and came full circle by returning in 2013 to start planning our newest school in Mazar-i-Sharif. He was a pioneer in sustainable architectural practice and adored by those he worked with.

A founding partner of the Miller/Hull Partnership, Miller leads a fundamentally design oriented firm emphasizing a rational design approach based on culture, climate, and building traditional of a place, Dave brings both strong professional and personal experience to his project. Currently Dave is Chair for the Department of Architecture at the University of Washington, where he is also a tenured Professor of Architecture. He teaches design studios, a systems integration seminar and the thesis preparation course in the March Program. He has been a distinguished visiting professor at the University of Michigan, the University of Maryland, and the University of Oregon. In 2005 Dave authored, Toward a New Regionalism, which promotes environmental architecture and showcases the work of Northwest architects from Portland to British Columbia.

Elizabeth Golden: Supporting Project Architect

elizabeth-150x150Elizabeth Golden is currently serving as the Project Architect for the Gohar Khaton Girls’ School. As Assistant Professor in the Department of Architecture at the University of Washington, Elizabeth was in on the ground floor of the design process for the school first co-teaching a graduate seminar at the University’s design studio. Ms. Golden has been instrumental in ensuring the ongoing success of the project. She received her B.Arch from the University of Arkansas and an MS in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University, GSAPP. She is a registered architect in the state of New York and is also licensed with the Berlin Chamber of Architects in Germany. She has over ten years of professional experience gained while working for internationally recognized firms in Rome, New York, and Berlin on projects ranging from boutique interiors to large scale urban developments, most notably Potsdamer Platz with Renzo Piano / Christoph Kohlbecker GmbH. In 2013, Ms. Golden founded united4design, a practice dedicated to providing design services for underrepresented members of society. united4design is currently active on projects in Afghanistan and Niger.

Design Team Member: Yasaman Esmaili

yassi1Yasamin Esmaili is a member of the Gohar Khaton Design Team and works closely with Dave Miller and Elizabeth Golden. Yasaman received her B.Arch from the University of Tehran and her M.Arch from University of Arizona. Currently she is finishing her Master of Science in Architecture, Design Computing, at the University of Washington. As a graduate student, Yasaman participated in the design studio on Afghanistan and the Gohar Khaton Girls’ School and has since remained involved in the school project. She is currently serving on the team as an architect as well as helping to coordinate a girls’ and women’s art project for the school’s interior. Yasaman is a founding member of united4design, a practice dedicated to providing design services for underrepresented members of society.

Gohar Khaton is a girls’ school we are building in the center of Mazar-i-sharif, and is in Afghanistan’s fourth largest city, with the support of the Janet W. Ketcham Foundation. The school uses innovative design techniques by the University of Washington School of Architecture, sustainable materials, and generates jobs for the local community. It will provide an inspiring learning environment and access to quality education for the city’s growing humber of female students. The new school replaces an older facility that was in an extreme state of disrepair. Follow the construction progress of Gohar Khaton on the Ayni website.

Smith College Honors Janet W. Ketcham

Our long-time supporter Janet Ketcham recently made a significant contribution to Smith College to endow a professorship in Middle East Studies. Her hope is that the new faculty position will expand students’ interest in a region of the world that might benefit from more scholarship, especially from women.

Janet has been a major contributor in Ayni’s mission to increase access to female education in Afghanistan. Her passion and commitment to female empowerment has strengthened our mission and made her an important philanthropic presence. To check out the complete article click here.

Featured Partner: Janet W. Ketcham Foundation

Click hereJanet Ketcham to see the new link to our featured partner to learn more about the Janet W. Ketcham Foundation. With a remarkable commitment to Afghanistan, the Janet W. Ketcham Foundation is briefly described as its main current project, the Gohar Khaton Girls’ School enters its final stages of construction.

Robert Hull Memorial Fund Established for Gohar Khaton Girls’ School

BOBSmile2In honor of the significant contributions that Architect Robert Hull made to Afghanistan and in particular to the Gohar Khaton Girls’ School in Marzar-i-Sharif, a school that is expected to open its doors  to over 3,000, the Hull family has established a memorial fund for the school. All donations received will be directed towards the school. The fund will be  managed by Ayni Education International and directed by the Hull family. If you would like to donate to the fund, please send contributions to:

Gohar Khaton Girls’ School (Afghanistan) Robert Hull Memorial Fund c/o Ayni Education International P.O. Box 17672 Seattle, WA 98127

Summer Intern Projects Underway

School Girls smiling outside of class B&W June 16, 2013Our summer interns are thoroughly engaged in Ayni’s work. Afghan national Airokhsh Qaisary, whom you can follow on our blog on this site, is conducting interviews for her video on our work as well as continuing to photograph the lives of girls we serve.  Ha Tran, a University of Washington MBA student is conducting a study on child marriage and educational interventions our programs can pilot in one rural and one urban setting this year. Samantha Tarvin is re-launching our blog and assisting with our website and social media. Our group will be rounded out with a rising high school senior who will conduct research on the role of girls’ education in Islam in Central Asia/Afghanistan. Stephanie Tam, an alumnae, has returned to help with development and social media.  Maggie Cooper literally runs the office and assists with grant writing. We are enjoying the team experience of working together for a summer in service to the girls of Afghanistan.

Our alumni network continues as we receive updates from those serving in Tajikistan, India and Sri Lanka as Princeton in Asia Fellows and State Department Critical Language Skills Fellows. We are heartened by their ongoing interest in and passion for girls’ education globally and especially in Afghanistan.


Afghan Voices: Gohar Khaton Girls’ School

Gohar Khaton principal 10-13

Check out our blog, Afghan Voices, for the latest updates on the construction of Gohar Khaton, a girls’ school we are building with the support of the Janet W. Ketcham Foundation. The school uses innovative design techniques by the University of Washington School of Architecture, sustainable materials, and generates jobs for the local community.

 See photos from construction by clicking here

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