Reach for the Stars - Afghanistan is an Astronomers Without Borders project in collaboration with the Astronomical Association of Afghanistan. The primary goal is to establish Afghanistan's first astronomy curriculum for young children set in the context of Afghan culture, Islamic astronomical heritage and modern science. Educational resources will be delivered to schools, orphanages and refugee camps in the Kabul area, and establish training and educational programs based on those materials.
Reach for the Stars - Afghanistan will also combat extremism by complimenting the students’ formal education, setting them on course for a brighter future.
The project team includes science communicators, planetarium professionals, humanitarian activists, Afghan government officials, Afghan nationals and international media professionals.
Once established in Kabul, Reach for the Stars - Afghanistan will expand to the rest of Afghanistan, and then beyond across Asia, the Middle East and Africa. A documentary film will be produced to tell the story of this project to a broader audience, raising awareness and support.
The experienced staff of Reach for the Stars - Afghanistan is volunteering their time. Thus the greatest part of the project is already in place. Funding is being sought for the remaining resources to make this project a reality.
And you can help.
You can give these children in Afghanistan an opportunity that is very rare for the students of their country. Astronomers Without Borders is a US 501(c)(3) tax-exempt corporation and donations are tax deductible. You can make your donation in any amount. Donations are being accepted through PayPal. You do NOT need a PayPal account to donate with your credit card through PayPal.
Reach for the Stars - Afghanistan has several components:
Little Book of Stars
Little Book of Stars is an introductory astronomy text for young Afghan children authored by Christopher A Phillips, edited and illustrated by Dr. Sai Pathmanathan, and translated into Pashto by Mujtaba Ilmi. Little Book of Stars covers astronomical topics from A-Z accompanied by cartoon illustrations. It will also serve as a complimentary text for children learning English. With an initial print run of 1000, Little Book of Stars will be distributed free to Pashto-speaking children in Kabul.
Many schools in Afghanistan lack even the most basic classroom materials. Kits containing pencils, pens, paper and astronomy education materials will be distributed, building the educational infrastructure for Reach for the Stars - Afghanistan to build upon.
Astronomy Curriculum Development
A basic astronomy curriculum - in Afghan cultural context and drawing upon the rich astronomical heritage of Islam - is being developed in collaboration with the Afghanistan Astronomical Association. Activities include basic observational astronomy, solar observing, and fun classroom activities such as kinesthetic astronomy. Astronomical outreach will also be conducted with children in classrooms, orphanages and refugee camps around Kabul and in other major cities as the security situation permits.
Cultural Exchange Program
Kite flying is an important part of Afghan culture. Kite flying was also one of the first things banned by the Taliban when they came to power. Kite flying is also an important part of native Hawaiian culture. Reach for the Stars - Afghanistan will deliver hand made kites constructed by Hawaiian schoolchildren on the Big Island of Hawai'i to their counterparts in schools in Kabul and beyond. This important exchange, through shared cultural values and ideals, will connect the children of these two very different cultures, creating a sense of freedom for the Afghan children in their otherwise isolated environment.
Documentary: Reach for the Stars - Afghanistan
Reach for the Stars - Afghanistan will produce a documentary that follows Afghan children as they struggle to learn in an environment of violence and political upheaval. Female and Pashtun students will be highlighted as they fight inequality, poverty and conflict in their quest for education and the promise of a better life.
Reach for the Stars - Afghanistan will change the lives of Afghan children. Inspiration, education and experiences early in life have the greatest impact on who we become. We will be reaching Afghan children at an important, and impressionable, time in their lives.
Education inspires young minds and changes lives. The night sky itself has changed countless lives as well. The educators involved in this project have set a goal to bring that inspiration and life-changing experience to the least advantaged of children.
Reach for the Stars - Afghanistan compliments existing formal education programs, setting children on a course for a life beyond the turmoil of conflict, and economic and social inequality.