By Humaira with Sally Mallam
It seems that I have more to say about Afghan culture than food lately. I've been immersed in several cultural projects that has kept me in my office and out of the kitchen. In this post, I’d like to tell you about Hoopoe Books, publisher of 12 beautifully illustrated children’s books that are based on traditional stories from Afghanistan and the surrounding region. I met Sally Mallam several years ago at a conference and I was impressed with her dedication to preserving and sharing Afghan culture. Those of you interested in Afghanistan and with children will surely appreciate the great work Hoopoe Books are doing.
Hoopoe has been publishing these tales since 1998, when it launched a series of Teaching-Stories collected and adapted for children by Afghan author Idries Shah. In 2015, they added two more titles: THE STRANGER’S FAREWELL and THE WISDOM OF AHMAD SHAH, which are retold by Palwasha Bazger Salam, an Afghan educator who is also Hoopoe’s Director of Education for its Books for Afghanistan program.
Though that program, Hoopoe and its implementing partner in Kabul, Khatiz Organization for Rehabilitation, have provided more than 4.4 million of these books in Dari-Pashto and English editions to NGOs, schools, orphanages and street children in all 34 provinces, and have trained more than 550 Afghan teachers. Hoopoe donated book to my non-profit, Afghan Friends Network which our students love. Along with ancillary, self-explanatory Teacher Guides, Hoopoe has also created Dari and Pashto audio versions of six stories for classroom use, as well as programs for local Afghan radio.
Hoopoe’s books depict the people, clothing, architecture and animals indigenous to Afghanistan. The tales themselves – which are part of our rich oral tradition and have been told continuously for hundreds of years – focus on universal themes such as problem-solving, building self‐esteem, negotiation versus confrontation, overcoming difficulties and finding peaceful solutions. And the books have been commended by Western educators and psychologists, the U.S. Library of Congress, National Public Radio and others for their unique ability to foster social-emotional development, thinking skills and perception in children and adults alike.
Through its Share Literacy program, which was launched in 2000, Hoopoe has also distributed more than 840,000 of these books and related materials for teachers and parents – in English, Spanish and bilingual English-Spanish editions – to disadvantaged children and their teachers throughout the U.S. and Canada, working through Head Start and other established literacy programs.
Proceeds from the sale of these books will support Hoopoe’s Books for Afghanistan program.