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Building Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan has been ‘profound and life-changing,’ Janice Eisenhauer says.

TODD KOROL/The Globe and Mail

The donor: Janice Eisenhauer

The gift: Co-founding Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan

The reason: To fund educational programs in Afghanistan

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Janice Eisenhauer was taking a development studies course at the University of Calgary in the late 1990s when she began reading about the mistreatment of women by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

"I was so thoroughly shocked that it was my call to action," Ms. Eisenhauer recalled from her home in Calgary.

Together with her classmate Carolyn Reicher, Ms. Eisenhauer started planning an organization to raise awareness about the issue. That led to the creation of Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan, a charity they launched in 1998.

Today, there are 13 Canadian Women chapters across the country and the organization has raised more than $6-million in total. The money funds awareness programs in Canada, including bringing guest speakers into schools, as well as literacy and teacher training courses in Afghanistan, run by the charity's office in Kabul.

Part of the funding has come from author Deborah Ellis, who wrote a popular book about Afghanistan, called The Breadwinner, along with three sequels. Ms. Ellis donated the royalties to Canadian Women, which have topped $1-million so far.

Building the charity "has been profound and life-changing for me," Ms. Eisenhauer said. "To feel so close and connected to people in Afghanistan is just so inspiring."

pwaldie@globeandmail.com

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