May 25, 2018

"We built a library to give Kabul street children a place to learn and feel loved"

Nematullah is helping street children in Kabul by building a library

Photo credit: Nematullah Ahangosh

Nematullah Ahangosh

Global Youth Ambassador from Afghanistan

A Global Youth Ambassador tells how young people bought furniture, built shelves and gathered books to help children who are out of school and working.

According to the 2016 UNESCO GEM report, 263 million children are not in school.

There are more than 60,000 street children in Kabul who are forced to work for their survival and most of them can’t access schooling. These children are busy cleaning cars, polishing shoes, selling plastic bags and dozens of other jobs. 

Their wages are not enough to meet their family’s needs, let alone allow them the time to receive a formal education. 

With this knowledge a group of young people and I gathered in Kabul to build a library to decrease the number of children on the streets.

The Dupree Library is created in honour of Professor Louis Dupree and Nancy Hatch Dupree. Louis was an American archaeologist, anthropologist and scholar of Afghan culture and history. Nancy was the founder and executive coordinator of the Afghanistan Centre at Kabul University (ACKU). 

The husband and wife team from the United States worked together for 15 years in Kabul, collecting as many works written about Afghanistan as they could. 

Nancy’s work primarily focused on the history of modern Afghanistan. She was fondly called the “Grandmother of Afghanistan,” having spent most of her life here or with Afghans abroad. 

The group collected bookshelves and bought second-hand furniture for the library

Photo credit: Nematullah Ahangosh

Everyone is welcome to use from the library’s facilities but the main focus is those who are lacking everything from education to happiness and love.

The goals of the Dupree Library are as follows:

  • To teach the fundamentals of writing and build the capacity for reading through literacy courses.
  • To improve social understanding and social interactions.
  • To learn and practise non-violence (happiness, love and respect for all life forms)
  • To implement educational workshops with honest communication at their core. Examples include Peacemaking Circles and Peace Mandalas (processes that bring together individuals who wish to engage in conflict resolution, relationship development and community building, or activities of healing, support and decision-making).  
  • To organise reading circles for children and youth and spread the culture of reading by exploring areas they are passionate about with a team.  
  • To help children and youth understand the value of family, cultural understanding and their own storytelling.

The library in Kabul gives children a chance to access learning materials

Photo credit: Nematullah Ahangosh

Dupree Library has opened! We spent two weeks building bookshelves and buying second-hand furniture for the library. 

We worked from dawn to dusk, in addition to our daily activities, making the bookshelves, carrying the furniture and getting the books to the library. 

We want to plant happiness for destitute children who do not have access to academic and social education and want a place to feel loved. Despite our hard work, we do not feel tired.

In honour of this progress, I wrote a poem:

We are not tired!   

We build love, 

And build happiness, spread them and grow them 

We work and work 

Build relationships 

Until to understand we are related 

We build peace 

When it is shattered 

Love is its piece 

We work not to be hired 

We work as a team 

So we are not tired 

We build trust and unity 

To make a family 

As a clan we have responsibility to make everyone happy.

  • Act
  • Related Stories