Working in the northwestern Afghan provinces of Faryab and Jowzjan, Barakat's entirely local staff introduces rural Afghan women and girls to reading and math via 10-month-long home-based literacy courses. The introductory lower-level courses, called Sowat Amausi, educate students to a third-grade-literacy level, teaching them to read Dari and understand basic mathematics while also giving them a venue in which to interact with each other in a culturally acceptable way. After the course, students have the option to enroll in the higher-level literacy course to learn Pashto, English, science, drawing, history, and other subjects or enroll in the fourth grade at a formal school. In the past eight years, Barakat has educated 3,975 Afghan girls and women in basic literacy and numeracy skills, with a 97% completion rate.
Part listening club, part school, Passim is an arts haven dedicated to cultivating creative development and building a vibrant music community. Since 1958, when it operated as a jazz venue under the name Club 47, Passim has brought talented musicians to the region, fostering the local folk and blues scenes and hosting musicians such as Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, and Mississippi John Hurt. The space's life as Club 47 came to a close in 1968, only to transform into an intimate setting where audiences could connect with musicians. Today, Club Passim cultivates this intimacy in its historic listening room, which features more than 400 shows a year ranging from celtic to jazz, and also presents the Boston Celtic Music Festival to showcase the skills of dancers and musicians whose inspiration hails from the British Isles.
Yet in addition to giving them a stage, Passim has supported and cultivated the local community of musical artists for the past decade. The Passim Iguana Music Fund provides career-development grants for musicians, and the lessons, master classes, and workshops at the Passim School of Music instruct more than 800 students every year in everything from guitar and songwriting to fiddle and ukulele.