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Pages for PEACE is a project put together by a group of Chicago middle school students who have an after-school volunteer organization, the Community Problem Solvers Program. They decided to choose picture books, have them translated into Dari/Farsi, and send them to Afghanistan where schools and education are in a bit of a mess. When TV coverage showed "how deprived the children in Afghanistan were, and how some of them were still being taught that the earth was flat, we all felt it was important for us to help them," 7th grader Thomas Allman said.

However, there were hurdles in book selection. The Cat in the Hat doesn't work so well in locations where dogs and cats are competition for food rather than domestic pets (and Dr. Seuss' made-up words don't translate well anyway). Books that show boys and girls attending school together would not make sense to children in a country where education is usually segregated by gender. The students found an Afghan-born translator, Delia Hamidzada, as well as a cousin of hers, Matsura Fedai, to help them select books as well as to do the translating.

Now, the books, including "The Little Engine that Could" and "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," will have the printed translations pasted over the English words by the students. Government groups and UNICEF have not been willing to help with sending them to Afghanistan, but a Chicago restaurant owner, Abdul Qazi, whose relatives own a Pakistan trucking company, has given his help.

So now, the middle schoolers are holding fundraisers to pay for the cost of the books (they have not yet heard from any publishers who they contacted about the program) and the shipping. More information about the program can be found by writing to Pages for PEACE Program, c/o Elm Place School, 2031 Sheridan Rd., Highland Park, IL, 60035.

Wow. I wish we had done projects like this when I was in middle school instead of having a trip to Busch Gardens count as our National Junior Honor Society "volunteer" hours.

Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/

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