Barakat works in Attock, in the Punjab region of Pakistan, through its local subsidiary, Barakat Pakistan. Barakat began as a partnership between a carpet-weaving business based in Punjab, Pakistan and a carpet-selling business based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The two founders, Habibillah Karimi, an Afghan refugee businessman living in Pakistan, and Chris Walter, an American small-business owner, decided to reinvest their profits into the communities in which they had been working to promote education, particularly for women and girls.
The majority of students at Barakat schools in Pakistan are Afghan refugees of Turkmen, Hazara, Pashtun and Tajik descent. These refugees began arriving in the 1980’s, after the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. Barakat’s first school for the children of the Ersari Turkmen refugees was opened in the city of Attock, Punjab, in 1994 with a class of 22 students.
Ersari Elementary School was the first of its kind in a city populated largely by Afghan refugees. By attending school together, the refugees were able to retain ties to their homeland and could regain a sense of the community that they had lost. At Ersari Elementary, students are able to study English, Urdu, Persian, Pashto, mathematics, computers, geography, science, and Islamic studies. In recent years, Barakat has had students enrolling from among the native Pakistani population.
In addition to their academic credentials, teachers at the schools must receive mandatory teacher training from an accredited University in Pakistan.