In war-ravaged Afghanistan, children have little access to literature, even in big cities. So for children living in remote areas that are hard to reach in 4x4s, books are an extremely rare commodity. But one man is trying to change that by riding his bicycle loaded with boxes of kids’ books to isolated villages.
Our Observer Saber Hosseini is a school teacher in the city of Bamiyan. His book distribution project, called “Kids Foundation”, has earned him the love of hundreds of kids – and the wrath of the Taliban.
“The Taliban used bicycles in their bomb attacks – so I wanted to replace violence with culture”
“I came up with the idea for this project six months ago. I talked about it to friends in literary circles, who donated money and got some of their friends abroad to donate as well. I started alone with 200 storybooks for kids, and started riding to remote villages throughout Bamiyan province. Soon I recruited more volunteers – now there are 20 of us, and we have a collection of about 6,000 books.
We ride bikes for several reasons: first, we don’t have enough money for cars. Second, some villages are only reachable by bike. And lastly, it’s a bit symbolic – the Taliban have at times used bicycles in their bomb attacks, so the message I want to convey is that we can replace this violence with culture.
We work as a sort of library – every week, we bring kids new books and take back the old ones to distribute to children in other villages. Some of the adults have even taken to borrowing our more advanced books. At first, I chose very simple books, but now most of the older kids are able to read more serious books – for example, we’ve got simplified versions of books by Victor Hugo, Jack London, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Samad Behrangi [an Iranian writer], and Ferdowsi [an Iranian poet].
Most of our books are imported from Iran, since the publication of books in Afghanistan is very limited. To buy them, we travel to the border with Iran.”
Initially published on France24 on 04/14/2016
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