Aida Association: kid’s story books will bring stability to Afghanistan

The Aida Association is a non-profit organisation which is using books and children’s literature to bring stability and peace to the war-torn country of Afghanistan. Tariq Habibyar, an Afghan local who’s now a PhD student at the University of Canterbury, founded the Aida Association with his wife in an effort to remedy the problems they have personally experienced while living in Afghanistan.

[Tweet “Are books the answer to Afghanistan’s problems? The Aida Association thinks it might be.”]

The couple have begun their effort by organising story-writing contests for children in schools in Afghanistan, which they will turn into books. Tariq hopes that these books will help make Afghanistan’s children creative, curious, and more critical thinkers.

“We see this as a way to communicate peace through education,” Tariq told New Zealand Entrepreneurs over Skype.

Education is everything to the Afghani social entrepreneur. It’s his passion, his subject of study, and one of his biggest sources of inspiration.

“I served [in] education in Afghanistan as a lecturer at Herat University. I worked directly with the schools. I did research with the schools in the Herat province where I grew up, and I feel like education is the most significant and the most essential way to bring about peace in a war-torn country like Afghanistan.” Tariq said.

“My own childhood is definitely another source of inspiration,” he added. “I grew up in the midst of war in Afghanistan, where I dreamed of having colourful books, and in a way I want to realise my childhood dreams through the children in Afghanistan by putting story books into their hands.”

Tariq has not been alone in wanting to educate Afghan’s future leaders, with friends and family being willing to do whatever they can to help the dream materialise. Some have arranged speaking positions at events for Tariq, others have offered to send toys and English story books to Afghanistan, and one friend has even designed a website for the Aida Association.

That assistance has helped Tariq overcome some of his organisation’s biggest challenges, like security, which has been a major obstacle for Aida.

“Working in Afghanistan is always a challenge, especially when you want to promote peace,” Tariq says.

Reaching the different villages poses a security risk, but Tariq says that because he’s a local, as are his friends and colleagues who will be working on projects, risk will be minimised.

[Tweet “Working in Afghanistan is always a challenge, especially when you want to promote peace and help education.”]

Funding has also been another problem, but the encouragement and support Tariq has received has led him to believe that people are willing to back a cause they believe in, especially when it comes to educating children. In the future, the Aida Association will be independent, relying heavily on a company that is being formed to sell books written by Afghan kids and adults for other Afghan children in other countries, like New Zealand.

Using those books, young ex-pats will read about the good parts of the Afghan culture, and they will improve their native language skills.

Tariq’s immediate vision for the Aida Association is to reach 5 million children by the year 2020, with 1,000 Aida books in the hands of those 5 million children.

[Tweet “By 2020, Aida will put 1,000 positive story books in the hands of 5 million Afghan children.”]

In regards to a more long-term approach, Tariq wants his organisation to be responsible for a positive paradigm shift in the country’s outlook. “I want to see that Afghanistan is a more peaceful and more democratic country because the Aida Association stepped in,” he says, “because the children we support are the future of Afghanistan.”

“They are the future leaders of Afghanistan, and we definitely want more open-minded, more critical thinkers to come to the government in the future and to take on responsibilities for the country.”

Through education, Tariq believes that Aida will make a difference in bringing stability and peace to Afghanistan.

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