Our mission: The Sparks Scholars program seeks to develop outstanding leaders in Afghanistan, by recognizing that world-class education is incomplete without service to others, and providing opportunities for both to talented young Afghans.
Sparks seeks to provide a safe space for people of all ages to learn and work together for the improvement of Afghanistan. As part of this mission, we established the Sparks Scholars program, which recognizes students based on their spirit of service and academic achievement. As part of the program, they receive academic and financial support from Sparks, and commit their time and knowledge to improve communities in Afghanistan. The service component includes a year of voluntary service in Afghanistan prior to enrolling in post-graduate studies.
Junior Scholars are supported to attend and complete the International Baccalaureate Diploma program, while Senior Scholars are supported to attend post-secondary institutions. There are currently 13 Sparks Scholars.
Examples of service initiatives undertaken by Sparks Scholars in collaboration with the Sparks Academies:
A Partnership in Caring
In 2011, the Texas IB Schools (TIBS) decided to include the Sparks Academies in 15 Days of Caring, a statewide program and fundraiser to encourage Texan children to participate in community service over 15 days. Sparks was selected as a beneficiary, and in the summer of 2011, 15 Days of Caring founder Margaret Davis presented the donation to Roshan. When Roshan told the Sparks Scholars about the funds they received, they brainstormed together ways to use the money, and decided to make a visible impact on the community rather than absorbing the funds in the day-to-day operation of the school. The Sparks Scholars identified a poorly constructed mud road outside one of the Sparks Academies in Kabul, which prevented children from attending school in the winter, and decided to pave it. They worked with the local community to achieve this goal, planting the seeds of civil society engagement with this community.
In the spring of 2012, a small plot of land near another Sparks Academy was going to be paved over. The space was ideal to build a green space for the students and local community, and provided a wonderful learning opportunity for Sparks students and teachers to engage with their natural environment. Samira Thomas at the Sparks Academies, and those Sparks Scholars who were offering their year of voluntary service, proposed using the land for a community garden. The neighbours wholeheartedly supported this idea, and a local expert was engaged as a volunteer to guide the teachers and students in planting their own garden. Soon after, a once empty space was turned into a sanctuary of laughter and play for adults and children alike.