Books for Afghan Refugees
November 13, 2021
The U.S. evacuated more than 65,000 Afghans from their homeland before the final withdrawal of U.S. troops, which took place one minute before the August 31, 2021, deadline set by President Biden. Since then, 24,000 Afghan refugees have arrived in the U.S., with 23,000 waiting on U.S. military bases abroad and 20,000 waiting in other countries.
More than 40% of these evacuees are children, many of whom are by themselves and not with their families.
Since 2009, Hoopoe Books has offered special bilingual Dari-Pashto editions of its books and has donated them to more than 5.4 million children throughout Afghanistan. Sadly, the Taliban takeover has forced us to suspend this Books for Afghanistan program indefinitely. We have now turned our efforts to welcoming newly arrived young Afghan emigrants to their new homes, by giving them these same traditional tales from their own country in beautiful, illustrated bilingual editions that pair Dari or Pashto – the two main languages of Afghanistan – with either English, French or German.
When asked to describe her impression of these children, Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, said: “They’re incredible in the sense (of) the resilience – you can see it on their faces. There’s obviously hope and excitement about a new future in a new country. There’s certainly anxiety and fear, because even though they are children, they still know the potential risks for family that they’ve left behind.”
We hope we can assist in welcoming young Afghans as they arrive in the West, by providing stories that help them continue to read in their mother tongue and, at the same time, learn to read in the language of their new home. They’ll be able to share these stories from their homeland with their new friends. We will continue to provide these books free of charge, as long as there is a need and generous friends who enable us to keep this program going.
So far, 11,818 bilingual English-Dari and English-Pashto Hoopoe books have been donated to 21 refugee programs in the U.S alone. Under the circumstances, photos of the recipients are hard to come by, but we did receive one of a little girl named Meherangez, who is now in Sacramento, California. Someone stuck a unicorn’s horn and ears on her head – and though we’re sure she has no idea what a unicorn is, her bemused but indulgent smile indicates that she’s letting it all flow over her with great aplomb.
240 Copies of The Silly Chicken by Idries Shah donated to Kabultec late December 2020
“Our Afghan refugee families in the Washington, D.C. area will love this beautifully illustrated children’s book. Because it tells a story from Afghanistan the book will bring special joy to the children and parents alike. These families have undergone extreme hardships and struggle with difficult adaptation challenges daily … The short, simple and humorous story in The Silly Chicken ... is certain to give all family members a great deal of pleasure.” Read the full letter.
Hoopoe books are now helping Afghan and Syrian refugees stranded in camps in Greece.
"These books are truly amazing, thank you. They are proving very popular, particularly with adults wanting to practice their European languages, but also with children, with everyone! Particularly the Dari books, Afghans are loving them - there is so little else in our collection, as most of our Farsi language books are from Iran and have a Persian bias. They have enriched our collection so we can offer more to our wonderful library users."
Volunteer – ECHO Mobile Library Reading Program, Greece
The Word Has Spread!
We've received another request for books for refugees, this time from the International School of Peace, which provides free school and school supplies for the children among the 20,000 refugees in Lesvos, Greece. The International School of Peace is in need of 33 copies of each of our English-Dari and English-Arabic books by Idries Shah, to distribute to their children from Afghanistan and Syria (726 books total).
Appreciation from The International School of Peace
“The books have arrived and they are beautiful, thank you very much!
"I have some sad news, last Saturday, a week ago our school was burn completely, we are working on the plan of re-building the school, our main goal is to keep educate our students, also in this hard time.
“Due to Corona virus we cannot have an educational activities at the moment, we have decided to give to our students homework and books so the can continue learn also now.
"We gave them some of the great books with explanation of how to work and learn with them.
“Hopefully we will be able to see them soon and see their progress.”
Anat, Headquarters Coordinator – The International School of Peace