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Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan

Afghan Children's Songbook Project

CW4WAfghan has awarded its third grant of $10,000 to support the Afghan Children's Songbook Project for the next reprinting of the songbook in 2016. These songbooks are distributed to schools, orphanages and women and family centers across Afghanistan in order to strengthen cultural ties, preserve these important traditional songs and enhance basic literacy. Primary beneficiaries of the project are young Afghan children, ages 4-9, in pre-schools, elementary schools and orphanages across Afghanistan.

This songbook project began in 1966. Louise Pascale, a United States Peace Corps volunteer lived in Kabul, Afghanistan and worked with Afghan poets and musicians to create a children’s songbook to be distributed to the schools in Kabul. Once she collected the songs, she traveled to schools and taught them to the children and had them draw pictures to go with each song. In 1968 the songbook with the children’s illustrations was published by the Kabul Press. Many years later, in 2003, Louise found her worn and faded copy of the songbook in her bookcase and realized, due to the turmoil and strife that had afflicted Afghanistan, that most likely her copy of the songbook was the only one left in existence. At that point, she made a commitment to return the songs, now almost completely lost from the culture, back to the children of Afghanistan. It was at that moment that the Songbook Project began.

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"We are very grateful for CW4WAfghan, who values this project and is willing to provide the essential support it takes to make the goals of the project a reality. Music holds a prominent role in culture, an assumption many people take for granted. For the Afghans, music disappeared for over 2 decades, and as one Afghan so poignantly stated, “when they took our music, they took our souls.”  The Afghan Children’s Songbook & Literacy project strives to not only return this valuable musical heritage back to Afghan children and their families, but to use these wonderfully rich traditional songs to enhance basic literacy skills. The Songbook Project, now in its 9th year, will soon reach the distribution mark of 50,000 songbooks distributed to schools and orphanages across Afghanistan, along with accompanying teacher’s guides. As the quotes below attest, music is not frivolous. It must be held dearly and kept alive for future generations."

Louise Pascale, Founder and Director of the Afghan Children’s Songbook & Literacy Project

“THANKS A MILLION for giving me a piece of my lost past back. It meant soooooooooo MUCH to me that my children can listen to the songs from my kindergarten time. Of course, I sang some of the songs to them when they were babies, but this CD is something else!”  

R. Hakimi (former Afghan Ambassador’s wife)

“Before receiving the songbook we did not have such kind of book in our kindergarten to teach our students. This project provided the songbooks to Kunduz province Kindergarten and more than 1,000 children have benefited from it and these kids really loved and enjoyed singing it. The songbooks really brought smiles and happiness to many children’s face in this province and we are really thankful for all of those people who initiated this project. All the songs in this collection are very unique and old songs, I am about 50 years old and I remember it very clearly that when we were young children we sang these songs while playing with other children in school; but unfortunately the war in Afghanistan not only destroyed the country but also destroyed and vanished these songs collections. When I first saw and heard the songs it felt very good and I remembered all those happy times that I had with my friends 40 years ago.Another unique thing about this songbook collection is that it has songs from different ethnic groups of Afghanistan in different languages; that really makes this songbook a unique book. We teach these songs to all children in our kindergarten and sometime they perform it on local and national events. I hope the project will continue and we will receive these songbooks in the future and I hope that you can provide these songbooks to all the children all over Afghanistan.” 

        F. W. Meraj, Head of Kunduz Kindergarten Department


Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan
PO Box 86016, Marda Loop, Calgary, Alberta
Canada T2T 6B7

t: 1 (403) 244-5625

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