Western Isles based charity helps keep folk tales alive in Afghanistan

Five thousand copies of the illustrated children's book will be distributed to schools and orphanages across Afghanistan.
Five thousand copies of the illustrated children's book will be distributed to schools and orphanages across Afghanistan.

A book of traditional folk tales from Afghanistan will help to improve children’s reading and writing skills, as well as building respect and mutual understanding, thanks to funding support from a Western Isles charity.

Five thousand copies of the illustrated children’s book, together with an accompanying Teacher’s Guide will be distributed to schools and orphanages across the country.

This latest project follows the success of a similar programme which used folk songs to improve literacy skills amongst children, particularly in the less well served areas outside the cities.

Now with the help of a funding boost from the Linda Norgrove Foundation, copies of Bood Nabood – Once Upon a Time – will be distributed to schools and orphanages in up to ten provinces across Afghanistan.

The Linda Norgrove Foundation was established in memory of the aid worker from the Western Isles who was kidnapped while working for a charity in Afghanistan and who died in a failed rescue attempt in October 2010.

Her parents, John and Lorna, wanted Linda to be remembered for her contribution to life rather than her tragic death and established the Foundation to help women and children affected by the war in Afghanistan.

The Foundation has distributed well over a million pounds since it was established in 2010 and has funded more than 80 grass roots projects.

John and Lorna explained their reasons for supporting the project, saying: “It often feels like we only ever hear negative things about Afghanistan.

“Yet, as we know from our visits there, the country has a rich cultural heritage and we are pleased to be playing a part in helping to preserve that.

“Education is key to improving the fortunes of the Afghan people – the children of today are the potential leaders of tomorrow and we are happy to support a project which is improving the learning experience for children, particularly those in the more outlying areas.”

Since 2007, the Afghan Children’s Songbook & Literacy project has printed and distributed over 50,000 copies of its two folk song books Qu Qu Qu Barg-e-Chinaar and Awasana See Sana, along with 5000 teacher’s guides.

Folk songs in Afghanistan were in danger of disappearing from the cultural memory after the severe censorship of music by the Taliban.

While collecting songs for the second book researcher Noorjahan Akbar realised that folk tales were also at risk because of changes in society. She visited elders in various regions to collect the folk tales and finally selected six short stories for the book – three in Dari and three in Pashto.

For more information about the Linda Norgrove Foundation see: WEBSITE