Following the Foundation Ball 2016 at London Hilton on Park Lane, the Foundation awarded the Aga Khan Foundation UK (AKF) £89,000 to support its early education programmes in developing areas of Northern Pakistan. One such programme has taught Maimona, who lives in a remote area of Northern Pakistan, how to read in English.
“My name is Maimona Sahar but my school fellows know me as ‘The Storyteller’. I study in grade-II in Government Muktab Primary School situated in a village far far away called Puchung of the Khot valley in Chitral. My school is a one room school with walls made of undressed stones and we only have one teacher. A year ago my school was selected as one of the School Improvement Programme schools. Though my school lacks all basic facilities such as rooms, toilet, electricity and water, I am so proud to be a student of this school for one single reason – my school now has a library with story books.
“My journey as a story teller began in March 2017 with the establishment of a small library in my school funded by DM Thomas Foundation through the Aga Khan Foundation. This wonderful library in school not only changed my daily routine at home but also transformed me into a story teller.
“Before we got the library, I used to spend time playing with friends and helping my mother in household activities. However, now I regularly take books out from the library to read at home. I ask my elder sisters, Yasmin and Naila who are studying in class nine and ten to help me in reading and understanding the stories.
“When I finish one story at home I tell it to my friends in school. During school hours, students of all grades sit in a circle and I narrate stories to them using the books that I take from the school library. Although I still take more time in reading English books, I love telling stories by looking at the pictures.
“I learned to make up stories through pictures from my teacher Rozgar Madad who attended training on Early Literacy Approaches and Reading for Children. I read Urdu books too but my favourite story books are Rapunzel, The Golden Duck and The Wolf and Seven Little Kids. These story books have mystery and beautiful characters, which I like most.”
Maimona’s skill of storytelling not only boosted her confidence but also made her popular at school as the best storyteller known as ‘Modern Grandma’. The Foundation and AKF initiative of establishing a small library has transformed Maimona’s daily routine – as a rural girl who was often involved in housework, she has been ABLE to become an enthusiastic story teller, a determined reader and a wonderful role model for other students in Puchung, in the remote valley of Khot in Chitral, the farthest district of the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan.