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Creating an opportunity for critical thinking: the library buses in Kabul

If you grew up in a war-torn country and had the chance to build a life in a safe western country, would you take it? If the answer is: “In a heartbeat!”, you are probably in good company. But then there are those few individuals who return to their home and help shape the future. Meet Freshta Karim and her educational buses.

The now 27-year-old Freshta Karim fled with her family from Kabul, Afghanistan, to Pakistan. After returning to finish school in Kabul and later on in India, Freshta left for Oxford in England where she attained a master’s degree in public policy. She could have stayed in the UK, but instead she chose to return to her home country and help educate the children and youth of Kabul with her bus project, Charmaghz.

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About Charmaghz

About Charmaghz

Charmaghz is the Persian word for walnut. Literally, it means “four brains”. It is an apt name for this project, as it is Freshta’s goal for children to learn and develop critical thinking and become positive and open-minded individuals. Freshta and her team experienced first-hand what it is like to be deprived of an education. During the war, schools were closed or too dangerous to attend – especially for girls. It was this experience that led to the idea of launching this project. A project that has the potential to change lives. To help shape Afghan society. Now and in the future.

Buses for different learning experiences

Buses for different learning experiences

The Charmaghz project comprises three buses painted blue, yellow and green. Freshta and her team drive out to more than 20 partner schools and orphanages and park there for the day. In a country with one of the lowest literacy rates in the world, the buses mean the world to the children.

The three buses offer different learning experiences: two function as mobile libraries; the third is dedicated to arts and crafts and also serves as a movie theater. There, children can enjoy programs about different countries, science and technology – and watch the occasional cartoon.

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The buses attract hundreds of children

The buses attract hundreds of children

Freshta and her team often read to the children and are there to answer any questions. The books provided are mostly in Dari and Pashto – some are in English – and have been donated by individuals or organizations. The group is currently experimenting with a new program: tablets with interactive learning programs.

The buses welcome 250 visitors a day. Needless to say, the volunteers cannot handle this number of visitors, which is why more buses and volunteers are needed.

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A sanctuary for children

A sanctuary for children

In addition to catching up on their reading skills, there is another important aspect to this project, says Freshta: “Children need a place where they can be themselves. They need a sanctuary.” When the bus pulls up in their neighborhood, troubles are literally shut out with the swoosh of the sliding door.

More about project Charmaghz

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The foresight to develop critical thinking

Freshta Karim and her team of volunteers demonstrate that change must be actively pursued. Whatever obstacles we face, it takes openminded and critical individuals to consider new perspectives and overcome hurdles. A mindset with which we at Vontobel concur – and why we encourage this incredible undertaking.

We embrace independent thinking and promote creativity to develop original solutions that make a difference. This is why we follow our own path in periods of change and passing trends, and act with foresight and determination.

Let’s talk foresight. Get in touch.

Let’s talk foresight. Get in touch.

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Be ready to strike. Own your success.

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