Members of the Afghan Student Organization are helping to encourage education after 30 years of oppression in their home country by sending educational materials through the Books for Afghanistan project.
Since the beginning of last semester, the ASO has collected more than 3,000 books that will be sent to the new American University library in Kabul, Afghanistan, a facility that is projected to open next fall.
Homa Khorrami, a medical student and university relations chair of the ASO, said her group collected a wide variety of books, including recent medical textbooks and journals.
“I think it is important for us to provide additional resources, which we have ample of here at GW, to the people in Afghanistan so that opportunities for higher education can be further pursued,” Khorrami said.
“Considering it was our first book drive and that we didn’t really have a goal number of books, I felt it was very successful,” Khorrami added. “I was especially pleased with the coordinated effort with various people, schools and libraries at GW.”
The Gelman, Eckles and the Himmelfarb Health Sciences libraries and the Lauinger Memorial Library at Georgetown University made most of the donations to the program. The Elliott School of International Affairs also participated in the drive, and students donated books in a number of drop boxes throughout campus.
Eckles Library Outreach Coordinator Matthew Tisdale worked closely with the ASO during the collection process and said the two main GW libraries donated close to 1,000 books.
“The Gelman Library System believes it has an obligation to promote educational opportunities for the students of Afghanistan,” he said. “We believe literacy is the backbone of democracy and if we’re able to contribute to Afghanistan’s literacy through this book drive then the cause is worthy of our time and effort.”
Tisdale said a wide variety of books, including “all kinds – from poetry to politics, from computer science to philosophy,” were collected.
Before multinational military forces led by the United States ousted the ruling Taliban government for sponsoring terrorism, women were not allowed to have jobs or go to school in Afghanistan. Overall education was limited and teaching supplies remain scarce.
“Without education you cannot implement democracy and prosperity and peace,” said Abdul Latifi, chairman of the Association for Peace in Afghanistan. “Everyone in Afghanistan thinks (education) is very important.”
“The need is just very tremendous,” said junior Najma Khorrami, the public relations officer of the ASO and Homa Khorrami’s sister. Najma Khorrami added that her group will hold a packaging session in Gelman Library on Jan. 30 before sending its first shipment of books to Kabul. The group plans to hold a similar drive in the future.
Anyone still wishing to participate in the Books for Afghanistan project can use donation boxes in the lobbies of the Elliott School building, the GW Hospital, the Gelman, Eckles and Lauinger libraries and in the Student Association’s office in the Marvin Center.