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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Team BLISS received a 2009 Summer Seed Grant from the Legatum Center to develop a customized “life skills” curriculum for Afghan refugees in Pakistan that aims to encourage school attendance and cultivate useful real-world skills. Here, team members Saba Gul and Eleni Orphanides reflect on their summer 2009 experience and the community's response to BLISS.

BLISS.jpgA group of animated teenage Turkmen girls sit in a cozy circle, chatting and laughing as they embroider a bright orange shaheen—a local bird—on black fabric. These girls are enrolled in the BLISS Art and Crafts class, a project that took off this summer in Attock, Pakistan with seed funding from the Legatum Center at MIT. BLISS, which stands for Business and Life Skills School, aims to increase access to education for working children among the carpet-weaving Turkmen refugees of Pakistan. Although the Cambridge-based NGO, Barakat Inc, offers free schooling to the community, many children—mostly girls—do not attend or drop out because they cannot forego the wages earned from weaving carpets. BLISS battles these girls’ opportunity cost of attending school through carefully designed financial incentives. Read more >>