Our partner, the Alif Laila Book Bus Society (ALBBS), was established in 1978. It was one of the first groups in Pakistan to focus primarily on empowerment of civil society and social reform, mainly through education. ALBBS has served over one million disadvantaged children through its schools and mobile libraries, and is working with us to distribute Hoopoe books to these children throughout Pakistan.
Alif Laila uses girls’ education to fight poverty and gender inequality, believing that “by educating girls, we are not only eradicating the secondary place of women in our society, and bringing them up to par with men, but also ensuring the advancement and modernization of our total society. An educated mother has it in her power to change the very culture of the most basic social unit – the family.”
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Our response to COVID-19
As a response to the changed circumstances our partners Alif Laila (ALBBS) went into swift action to develop an Online Hoopoe Primary School Master Teacher Training as a result of school closings; and Hoopoe created a new more comprehensive curriculum using our 12 books. It is currently being translated into Urdu.
Basarat Kasim, the president of Alif Laila, writes “We are excited to see how the teachers will transfer what they are exposed to, to the children.”
The Islamic Development Bank which has funded mobile libraries in the Azad Jammu and Kashmir region in the northernmost part of Pakistan, has asked ALBBS to conduct online teacher training programs for the 337 government schools in the area. 337 sets of 11 Hoopoe Books titles will be distributed to as many schools after training master trainers.
This year thanks to donor support we were able to publish a new title, an English-Urdu edition of The Stranger’s Farewell by Palwasha Bazger Salam.
In June of this year Dr. Saira Khan requested English-Urdu and Urdu-Sindhi books books from us for government girls schools lacking libraries in the rural area of Tauluka Hyderabad, Sindh. Dr. Khan is a government officer of Provincial Management Service and currently posted as Tauluka Education Officer at Hyderabad. We were excited to receive this letter and photographs of girls and their drawings – it reminds us all that our Hoopoe programs do make a difference.
Thanks to our wonderful partners Alif Laila Book Bus Society, who packed and shipped 4,500 Urdu-English and 1,300 Urdu-Sindhi Hoopoe books to Dr. Khan in under a week!
Dear Hoopoe books and Alif Laila Book Bus Society,
First, let me just say, thank you for the warm response!
Living and growing in an underprivileged area of Sindh, my early childhood, I know what it means to not have access to books. Sitting on an old bench under a neem tree, was all I had as a second-grade school. The mere thought of a school building only seemed like a dream. Access to storybooks was even unimaginable at that time. Being brought up in such a social setting where being a woman is considered a liability makes it is even harder for women to get an education. However, my thirst for knowledge and my parents’ support kept me motivated to continue my study despite all odds in life. Lack of facilities never blocked my vision. My hard work and luck paid and from being the double gold medalist MBBS doctor to becoming a Provincial Civil Service Officer, I became the example of change for my community’s women. I always wish to play a role in helping young girls from poor rural backgrounds to materialize their dream of a better education. These girls are living in a societal stature and conservative mindset where their imaginary bent of mind is made blurry and quite dull. Instead of reading bedtime stories, they are told to do chores. Your generous donation has filled colors in the life of these young girls.
However, as it is rightly said that generosity knows no boundaries, this disparity in access to education is being challenged and minimized to a great extent by generous organizations like you. Although it was my first experience with you guys, you made it easier and more memorable. From communication to arranging books on such a short notice strengthened my belief that a change can be brought up in the miserable life of poor rural girls too. Around six thousand books that you guys have sent me are now in the hands of the little girls belonging to rural areas of Hyderabad Sindh.
Fatima, 13 years old, belongs to a Syed Family. On receiving books, she along with her two cousins was so excited to have these books. When the teacher handed her packet of books, her eyes filled with tears of joy because she had never seen such illustrative storybooks in her life but only in TV dramas. She said this was the best gift she has ever received.
Fatima is one out of the 4000 girls, whom your beautiful and fully imaginative stories in three different languages have allowed living their dreams not fears. All other students too are excited to read these illustrative storybooks.
Our team worked enthusiastically to sort out all the books according to school and has ensured that the books are carefully packed. Moreover, as the global Covid-19 pandemic is also present, and the schools are closed, we have managed to distribute the books following all SOPs to prevent chances of contracting or spreading infection. Books are also made available in school Libraries. Students can visit the school and get issued books from the library once a week. Where Libraries were not yet functional or girls were not allowed to go out of the home due to family restrictions, our teachers distributed books to their doorsteps. Once schools are opened after the announcement by the government, students will be taught these stories in school. For instance, taking our initiative to the far-flung areas, our teachers have reached out even to the Kohli community, where educating girls is still a taboo. Our teachers have been not only distributing the books but also advocating the utter need for education. Your books have helped our motto that no girl is left behind from being artistic, critical, and imaginative.
Reeta Kumari, a 12-year-old, who is an outstanding student of her school, told that she is a huge fan of stories, but as she belongs to a humble Kohli (Lower Hindu Community) family, she cannot afford fancy books on her own. The joy in her voice after seeing the storybooks by ALBBS and Hoopoe books was unbelievable. When she was told that soon the library in her school will be fully functional, the sparkle in her eyes spoke of unimaginable happiness.
Thanks a lot, to ALBBS and Hoopoe books for opening this wonderful world of knowledge for these poor rural girls. They can now enjoy the privilege of reading irrespective of their social or economic background. You have proved that we can achieve Sustainable Development Goal-4 of education for all. Looking forward to working with you again for our girls.
Warmest Regards Dr. Saira Khan PMS
Hyderabad Sindh, Pakistan
We also received thank you letters from the children (you can click on the images to enlarge them):
—Basarat Kazim, President, Alif Laila Book Bus Society (ALBBS) in Lahore, Pakistan
Prior to the COVID-19 restrictions ALBBS held a Day with Hoopoe Books. The children made puppets, artwork, costumes, and plays relating to the stories.
This year, before the COVID virus lockdown, ALBBS had already distributed 45 Box Libraries to underserved schools. These contain 100 books (including 2 sets of all 10 Hoopoe Books in Urdu-English editions), teaching materials and projects. These are often given to schools that have no library at all. There are more than 300 requests awaiting fulfillment. Your gift of $50 will provide Hoopoe Books for two Box Libraries.
ALBBS joined up with Chughtai Labs to popularize reading at the Children’s Literature Festival, featuring Hoopoe books.
Highlights from 2019
Highlights from 2018
Each box includes a set of 10 Urdu-English Hoopoe books by Idries Shah. Our primary focus will be on remote and neglected areas, where children do not know the joys of reading for pleasure.
Highlights from 2017
These BECS programs for out-of-school children are an innovative initiative taken by the Government of Pakistan. Their goal is to strengthen non-formal approaches to supplement formal education for the eradication of illiteracy and the achievement of Universal Primary Education (UPE). 80% of BECS teachers/staff and 60% of students are female.
Since the Hoopoe books arrived in the FATA BECS schools, attendance increased from 60–70% up to 100% because all the children wanted to read them and play with the puppets.
Its my immense pleasure being a representative of federal Govt. institution and in charge of FATA cell of Basic Education community schools non formal education approach for all those deprived and neglected community of FATA where there is no chance of primary education….. we are struggling to improve literacy ratio and reduced illiteracy….. in this effort your organization provided story books and puppet kits for enhancement of reading skills in these kids.
I would like to share that in my recent monitoring activity in one of the Agency of FATA, I noticed some extraordinary and remarkable positive change in overall environment of schools. I asked from concerned teacher regarding 100 percent attendance – as the attendance of the school remained 60 to 70 percent as average – but inquiry from students they replied that due to Alif Laila [Hoopoe] books and puppet kits we regularly come to school for reading and playing.
I asked a female student of grade 4 regarding her punctuality as I checked her previous attendance, and she remained absent from school, she replied that I avoid absentee and never ever attend events in our community just because of the story and reading books.
Assistant Director FATA
Ministry of Federal Education
Highlights from 2016
According to our partners over there, “Everyone is very keen to receive Hoopoe books for their students because none of them have story books.”
The Government continues to expand this worthwhile program, with plans to establish 50,000 BECS schools throughout the country. With your help we will provide a set of Hoopoe books for thousands more.
Urdu-English Hoopoe books by Idries Shah are being covered now so that all 2,135 BECS schools in Balochistan, AJK, and Gilgil Baltistan will receive a set of 10 teaching-stories for all their students to read.
Girls and boys in the one-room schools run by HOPE in FATA now have books of their own.
In January we donated 5,050 Hoopoe books and 630 posters to HOPE for their one-room schools in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Each of their 90 schools have now received a set of ten titles for their on-going use, and every school also received a set of 7 posters of our books to brighten up their bare mud walls. You can see these in the two photos below.
Hoopoe is helping to add a little color to these children’s lives.
This year we set out to distribute a set of our 10 Urdu-Pashto bilingual books for the libraries in 1,389 Non-Formal Basic Education Community Schools (BECS) schools in 23 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Now photos of the distribution are beginning to come in. The BECS program reaches young people who have missed, dropped out, or been deprived of a primary education, providing non-formal, free, flexible modern basic education, leading to the possibility of later graduation and admission to grade six formal schools. 80% of BECS teachers/staff and 60% of students are female. The chance to learn to read using our beautiful books will help these young girls develop a love of reading and learning which will make such a huge difference to their lives.
Students from Malakand District, KPK with their Hoopoe books.
In addition, thanks to our partners the Alif Laila Book Bus Society and Human Resource Development Organization (HRDO), Hoopoe books are now in the hands of more children in the troubled area of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK). The photos above are from a June distribution in Dera Ismail Khan District.
Our progress earlier this year…
With the help of our partner, Alif Laila Book Bus Society, plastic covers now protect the books for multiple use.
- Free education in Basic Education Community Schools
- Schools which are based on non-formal basic education system having a single teacher, single home-based room for school (Classes KG to V)
- The premises which are provided free of cost by the community
- BECS teachers, preferably local female teachers, who teach students in the mother tongue of the students and the community
- In each BECS school, 25-30 learners of age group 4-12 years are mandatory; a single teacher is responsible for all the classes of the school by adopting multi-grade teaching methods; based on formal school curriculum
Classroom Walls in FATA Will be Brighter Now
We started the New Year with the news that a total of 5,050 Urdu-Pashto Hoopoe books and 630 posters have been sent to HOPE for their non-formal schools in FATA. Each of their 90 schools will get a set of ten titles for their on-going use, and every school will also get a set of 7 posters of Hoopoe books to brighten up their currently bare walls.
This is an area of the world where children have suffered greatly not only at the hands of Taliban insurgents, but just recently from the devastating magnitude 7.5 earthquake that hit Afghanistan and Pakistan and was felt even as far as India.
Highlights from 2015
Urdu-Pashto Editions of Hoopoe titles by Idries Shah
Alif Laila Book Bus Society Story Sessions
The Alif Laila Book Bus Society’s StoryWalk Project fascinates children and adults!
And, as you can see, they were very happy to have books of their own.
International Book Giving Day 2015
BRAC distributed 2,000 books and “Make your own Puppets” kits to 200 schools in Swabi, Charsadda and Haripur districts, and an additional 3,000 books were distributed to children in Peshawar, thanks to help from HOPE, ProGrowth and Khwendo Kor.
If anyone wonders whether providing these wonderful stories to children makes a difference in their lives, these photos will surely give you the answer…
International Book Giving Day was also celebrated by Khwendo Kor (KK). Their education team arranged an event in collaboration with Alif Laila at Deen Dunya located in Mathra village in the district of Peshawar on February 16, 2015. 120 children participated in this activity and were given a set of Hoopoe books. Stories were read with the children and they were taught the importance of books and told how reading books is a good habit and one can learn different valuable lessons.
The team reported that “The children loved the activity and were mesmerized by the beautiful illustrations and captivating stories.”
Highlights from 2014
Students from BRAC non-formal schools are pleased to receive books of their own.
17 Homes for Abandoned Children Receive Hoopoe Books
Books for Children in IDP Camps in Peshawar
Children from North Waziristan in IDP camps in Peshawar
Over the summer we created new bilingual editions of our ten titles in Urdu and Pashto specifically for this border region and, thanks to everyone’s help, we are now printing 30,000 books, 3,000 copies of each to be distributed in the very near future.
Highlights from 2013 – 2011
This year we prepared five more Hoopoe titles. They are now press-ready in English-Urdu editions: The Silly Chicken, Neem the Half-Boy, Fatima The Spinner and the Tent and The Magic Horse all by Idries Shah and translated by Hafeez Diwan.
To date, we have printed and distributed a total of 25,000 books of the first five titles and will print and distribute more just as soon as we have the funds to do so.
‘When I spoke to the coordinators in Muzaffargarh they told me that the children were completely caught up by the beautiful illustrations and the power of the stories! One child commented:
“I thought I would only find books of this sort in the homes my mother works in! Imagine finding them in my own school. How blessed I am!”’
from our partner is Pakistan,
Mrs. Basarat Kazim Founder and President of
Alif Laila Book Bus Society
We continue to collaborate with DIL (Developments in Literacy) to donate these beautiful children’s books to the children they serve. DIL runs 150 schools serving approximately 15,000 children, especially girls, in underdeveloped regions in Pakistan.
In June 2012 we donated 2,800 copies each of two more titles: The Clever Boy and the Terrible, Dangerous Animal and The Old Woman and The Eagle to DIL and received this report from them.
These are bilingual English and Urdu editions, so that children can read the Urdu translation and the English on the facing page. We have translated three titles that are now ready to print: The Lion Who Saw Himself in the Water, The Clever Boy and the Terrible, Dangerous Animal and The Old Woman and The Eagle.
“The Hoopoe books were distributed in all DIL Orangi Schools last week. The response is absolutely delightful! The children enjoyed the stories immensely, especially the colourful illustrations and characters. The younger children roared along with the lion, providing sound effects for it amidst peals of laughter saying ‘How can the King of the jungle be afraid of his own reflection?’ The older children talked about how ignorance and miscommunication can induce fear and prevent us from understanding each other but how everything worked out in the end when all the animals understood the lion and stopped fearing it.
“Even the pre-readers loved the books; looking at the pictures giggling and interpreting the images, wondering aloud what would happen next and then turning the page over in anticipation.
“The teachers enjoyed the books just as much as the children did, especially the illustrations, they said, and hoped more books of the same kind would be coming.
“One teacher said she had been doing a lesson on reflection with her grade 2 students when these books were given and was delighted to see that she could use it to reinforce her lesson. Even some of the kids who hadn’t taken an interest earlier, now understood and enjoyed the lesson.” —Zeba Shafi, Regional Program Manager South, Developments in Literacy.