“I witnessed pure wonder” – Children in Afghanistan receive first books
Jul 16, 2020
ISF has donated 50 copies of our illustrated Teaching Story picture books, Speak First and Lose, The Ants and the Pen and The Onion, to the children of Parande Valley in Panjshir Province in Afghanistan.
The copies were distributed by our friend Mahdi Housaini, a young Australian of Afghan heritage, who has spent the past few years working in an orphanage run by the charity, Mahboba’s Promise.
Mahdi has been especially busy lately realising a long held dream – building Afghanistan’s first children’s library.
“I have known the transformative power of books since I was just 5 years old when my mother used to lay me and my brother next to her at night and read us stories from ‘A thousand and one nights’,” he writes. “I know that books, especially children’s books, impart wisdom, expand the imagination, encourage empathy and acceptance and inspire. I want to take one of the first big steps in Afghanistan to substitute the culture of guns and violence with the culture of books, stories and learning.”
Here Mahdi describes the reaction of the children of the Parande Valley on receiving Speak First and Lose, which has been translated into Dari:
“When I opened the box of ISF books, they were all huddled around it and peering down, waiting and finally seeing. I gave each one of them a single book. For every single one of them, it was the first time they had received a book as a gift, for themselves, to own and keep. I saw the world around them cease, as they opened the pages and ran their small fingers across the lines, not blinking. I witnessed pure wonder. They held on to their books, even after they finished. I did not see a single book on the ground. Then I took the children inside the library, which still was not fully finished in terms of its construction. I asked who wanted to recite the story for the others. Most of the hands went up, some fast as lightning, and others hesitantly, when they saw other hands rise first. I picked one of the little girls, Makka, to read for the rest of us. She did so beautifully and without missing a word, while the others looked up and listened to her intently.”
You can help ISF send more books to Afghan children by donating here.
And you can help Mahdi purchase books for his new library by following this link.
Thank you to all those who have contributed so far! Your generosity is making a difference.