Student putting books in the hands children

25 November 2013

A University of Canterbury (UC) postgraduate student is putting books in the hands of Afghan children through the virtual world and distributing to villages in Afghanistan.

Student putting books in the hands children

Tariq Habibyar

A University of Canterbury (UC) postgraduate student is putting books in the hands of Afghan children through the virtual world and distributing to villages in Afghanistan as part of his PhD research project.

Tariq Habibyar’s study project - One Story and One Village at a Time – has the goal of seeing five million Afghan children having access to his books by 2020.

He is setting up a foundation with the Ministry of Justice in Afghanistan and is hoping he will be able to have it registered in New Zealand so he can manage it easier and get support from the New Zealand public.

"I am also keen to get support from the New Zealand Army as they have supported Afghanistan's education before. My foundation is called Aida Children's Foundation. I developed this idea through the UC Innovators scholarship.

"An overall goal of the foundation is not only to give Afghan children access to books and libraries but also to improve their lives through educational books. Stories will focus on promoting attitudes towards gender equality as Afghanistan, very unfortunately, has remained a highly male-dominated country.

"I also used part of this scholarship to conduct a story writing contest for a number of female students aged 9 to 12 at schools in Herat. Students will receive cash prizes for their stories.

"The selected stories will be edited by the professional story writers in Herat and will be prepared for publishing on the foundation's website. My PhD supervisor Professor Letitia Fickel and my Innovators scholarship mentor Rachel Wright are giving me excellent support and guidance for this project.

"A book is more than a story to be studied but a tool to increase imagination in children. Imagination leads to innovation and therefore jobs. To create jobs in Afghanistan is to promote peace.’’

Habibyar has a passionate vision for the expansion and development of education for Afghani children. While the number of children in schools since 2001 have increased from one to seven million and girls from zero to 40 percent, there is limited access to books and there is hunger for change.

He has encountered difficulties with his status as an Afghani citizen. He grew up with concerns over the Taliban and the threat of war.

"I've been in New Zealand for almost two years now. I am wholeheartedly grateful to the kindness of people and to the beauty of nature here.

"I've mostly received care and respect from people outside Afghanistan but also, at times, I've experienced discrimination because of my Afghan identity which was painful. My dream is to see a world where diversity is respected and we all care for one another.’’

For further information please contact:
Kip Brook
Media Consultant
Student Services and Communications
University of Canterbury
Ph: (03) 364 3325
Mobile: 027 5030 168

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