November 7 Fundraiser
Press Release October 31, 2002
Books for Freedoms First Shipment of 20,000 Books Arrives in Afghanistan
New York-based non-profit collected and donated professional and educational books to Afghanistan; gearing up for second donation with fundraiser Nov. 7 in New York
Books for Freedom, a non-profit organization working to send desperately needed books to Afghanistan, announced today that its first shipment of over 20,000 volumes has safely arrived in Afghanistan. The books will be distributed to libraries and schools. A fundraiser is being held Nov. 7 at Zanzibar in New York City; all are welcome.
Books for Freedom is a grass-roots effort that was started after its founding members heard a National Public Radio story about the need for books in Afghanistan, and started to organize a response to the dismal situation.
Books for Freedom hopes to aid in rebuilding the country of Afghanistan by donating books in local and foreign languages that will help to create a better way of life for many Afghan men, women, and children. By supplying books on all topics, we hope to increase knowledge and expand minds that were strait-jacketed for so many years under the Taliban, said Melissa Street, President and Founder of Books for Freedom.
Street organized a shipment to Afghanistan that left New Jersey July 11, 2002. Among the 20,000 books in the first shipment are volumes on engineering, agriculture, medical and legal topics, as well as novels and other literature. The books are in both English and local languages.
Donations included 12,000 volumes from John Wiley & Sons, a textbook publisher in New York City; 2,000 books from The Fordham University School of Law; and over 4,000 titles from the estate of Mohammad Ali Jazayery, the late founder of the University of Texas Middle East Studies Department. Dorsey Trailers, based in Elba, Alabama generously paid for the first shipment of books to be sent to Kabul, Afghanistan.
Books for Freedom is collecting books in English, as well as the predominant Afghan languages of Farsi, Pashto, and Arabic. All types of books are sought to rebuild the nations infrastructure and secure peace and stability.
Local book drives are in the planning stages for the next shipment of books which is set to go out in early spring 2003.
Please see the www.booksforfreedom.org for more information.
Press Release July 11, 2002
Books for Freedom Launched to Promote Literacy and Education in
Over 20,000 books leaving the United States Destined for National
Library in Afghanistan
NEW YORK, N.Y.,July 11, 2002
by Kimberly Trudel
Books for Freedom, a non-profit organization working to collect and
send desperately needed professional and educational books to Afghanistan,
today announced its first shipment of over 20,000 volumes, departing
the United States destined for the National Library in Kabul. The
mission of Books for Freedom is to support the development of library
systems and enhance the public availability of books in developing
nations and, in particular, Afghanistan, by providing books and other
similar reading-based materials and resources in order to promote
literacy, the freedoms of speech and thought, and the free exchange
Decades of war and repressive Taliban policies have decimated the
National Library and contributed to the alarmingly low literacy rate
in Afghanistan. The National Library of Afghanistan is one of the
few buildings still standing in Kabul. However, books are in short
supply. A grass-roots group of like-minded individuals have spearheaded
the collection and delivery of thousands of engineering, legal, agriculture,
medical, and literature books, to name a few.
³Books for Freedom hopes to aide in reconstructing the country of
Afghanistan by helping to create a better way of life for many Afghan
men, women, and children of all ages by supplying them with books
which will help them increase their knowledge and expand their minds,²
said Melissa Street, President and Founder of Books for Freedom. Support
for the groupıs effort has been overwhelmingly positive. Corporate
and institutional donors have provided books, facilities, and other
donations. Those making donations include 12,000 volumes from John
Wiley & Sons, a textbook publisher in New York City; The Fordham University
School of Law, contributing another 2,000 books; the estate of Mohammad
Ali Jazayery, the late founder of the University of Texas Middle East
Studies Department, has pledged upward of 4,000 titles; Dorsey Trailers
has generously paid for the first shipment of books to go from a New
Jersey port to Kabul, Afghanistan.
"Books for Freedom is a remarkable example of effective grass roots
response to the urgent need for books in devastated Afghanistan. My
colleagues at the Association of American Publishers are urging U.S.
publishers and all concerned citizens to join in this major effort
to bring books to libraries and schools in Afghanistan." Jeri Laber,
Director, International Freedom to Publish Committee, Association
of American Publishers.
³I became involved with Books for Freedom when I was approached after
making a speech at the Asia Society about a recent trip to Afghanistan.
Melissa and her team asked me if I could help them find a contact
in Kabul to meet the shipment of books when it arrived. I was delighted
to be in a position to help, and I gave Melissa the contact information
for Nilufar Shuja, an Afghan American who had repatriated to Kabul
to help reconstruction efforts. For me, Books for Freedom is exactly
the type of initiative that private citizens should be engaged in
right now. Any efforts to promote knowledge will increase the chances
of building a democratic self-determined state in Afghanistan.² Nicola
Armacost, Network Linkage and Learning Manager, Womenıs World Bank.
Books for Freedom is collecting books in English, French, and German,
as well as the predominant Afghan languages of Farsi, Pashto, and
Arabic. All types of books are sought to rebuild the nationıs infrastructure
and secure peace and stability. Among the subjects needed are agriculture,
architecture, business, engineering, law, and medicine, as well as
childrenıs books, secondary educational texts, crafts guides and newspapers
or magazines about current news, business, and science. See www.BooksForFreedom.org
for information on contributing books or making donations.
ABOUT BOOKS FOR FREEDOM
The idea for Books for Freedom first began on January 17, 2002 when
NPR aired a report from Anne Garrels on the National Library of Afghanistan.
Garrels reported that much of the libraryıs contents have been destroyed
over the years of war and strife in Kabul. Most of the books have
been stolen and sold, the paper torn out and used to wrap food. Among
the collection of current books in the library are a few of Leninıs
works and books on US foreign policy from 1962. There is no heat or
electricity. Due to lack of power and funds the library is only open
a couple of hours a day. Its no wonder that only 30% of the population
of Afghanistan is able to read and write.
The response to Garrels report was amazing. The e-mails streamed in
from people who wanted to donate books, money and time. Melissa Street,
and her father, Chriss Street, who had both heard the NPR report,
wanted to collect books and send them to Afghanistan. They connected
with Anne Garrels, who in turn, connected them with others who wanted
to help. They realized an organization was needed to bring people
together to accomplish the task of sending books to Afghanistan. Thus,
Books for Freedom began. On February 10, 2002 the New York Times published
an article by John Burns that generated much of the same reaction.
It spoke of women getting back into the classrooms at Kabul University.
The article ended with the Universityıs chief librarian, Muhammad
Sadiq Wadid sending out a plea to Western countries for books. Again,
there was a huge response from this article and people who wanted
to help were connected with Books for Freedom. Our aim is to collect
books for libraries and schools in Afghanistan. We have a comprehensive
list of the types of books that are needed and in what languages.
See www.BooksForFreedom.org for information on contributing books
or making donations.
Books for Freedom
2002 Shelley A. Marshall Award
For Freedom received The 2002 Shelley A. Marshall Award for The Enrichment
of The Human Spirit on September 7, 2002 at the First Annual Shelly
A Marshall Gala Fundraising Event² Donn Marshall (Founder of The Shelley
A. Foundations) had these words to say about Books for Freedom:
³When I heard and read about what your organization was doing, I was
tremendously impressed both with your effort and the thought behind
it. "... To promote literacy, the freedoms of speech and thought,
and the free exchange of ideas," will be the key, not just to winning
the war on terrorism, but in quite literally making the world
a better place. Thoreau once said something along the lines of "There
are a thousand philanthropists hacking at the branches of evil and
injustice, but only a few who strike at its roots." You are striking
at the roots.²
Donn Marshall had this to say about the organization he started in
remembrance of his wife whose life was taken at the Pentagon on September
11, 2001: ³While there are many charities that clothe and feed a body,
the Shelley A. Marshall Foundationıs activities are designed to inspire
and enrich the spirit by stimulating creativity and compassion to
make lives extraordinary. The short-term goal is simple: to bring
a smile to someoneıs face; the long-term goal is more ambitious: to
change the world one person at a time.²
To find out more about the Shelly A Foundation, visit: http://www.shelleysfoundation.org/