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Dr. Louise Pascale: Helping Afghan Children through Song (In Dari)      
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Today’s Good People, Good Works will be presented in Dari and English, with subtitles in Arabic, Aulacese (Vietnamese), Chinese, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Mongolian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Thai.

We are the Afghan people
We are Afghans from mountains
We are the Afghan people
We are Afghans from mountains
We have the same faith and tradition
We have the same religion and ideal
We have the same faith and tradition
We have the same religion and ideal
We are the Afghan people
We are Afghans from mountains

Hallo, caring viewers, and welcome to Good People, Good Works on Supreme Master Television. Today’s program highlights Dr. Louise Pascale’s Afghan Children's Songbook Project, which works to revive and promote the beautiful, traditional children’s music of Afghanistan.

Dr. Pascale is a former United States Peace Corps volunteer in Afghanistan and is currently an Associate Professor of Creative Arts and Learning at Lesley University, USA. Now let’s learn more from Dr. Pascale about the Project and its origins.

It originally started, in 1966, when I was in the Peace Corps. I went to Afghanistan as a 22 year old. And I first was asked to teach English, which I did, to boys who lived in the provinces. I had just graduated from college, and I got a degree in education and in music, and I was interested in whether the children were singing in schools. So I worked with some people who were helping me out, and they said that I could go in and teach songs.

So I found an Afghan poet and an Afghan musician, and we together, because I didn't know the songs, they helped me. I wrote the songs down; they sang them to me, because I didn't have a tape recorder. And then I went and taught the children the songs and they drew all the pictures.

In 1968, 3,000 copies of Dr. Pascale’s collection of songs and children’s illustrations was published by the Kabul Press and distributed throughout Afghanistan. Soon afterwards, Dr. Pascale completed her volunteer work in Afghanistan and returned to the US.

Sadly, during the 1990s and early 2000s, when Afghanistan faced internal strife, much of the country’s cultural heritage and traditional arts, including its music, were lost. Feeling deeply concerned, in 2003 Dr. Pascale decided to take action on behalf of the Afghan people.

So about that time, I looked in my bookcase and I found my old song book. And I stood in my living room and held it and thought, "Wow, this may be the only copy of those 16 songs that is left, because if in fact everything was destroyed, maybe there isn't anything left, and it's been so long. It’s almost 20 years since people have sung these songs.

So I vowed that I would return them somehow. And I really, actually didn't have any idea how I would do that. But that's kind of how it all got started. It was a small idea. I just thought I would get the songs back to the children.

After consulting many individuals and organizations, Dr. Pascale was fortunate enough to encounter Mr. Vaheed Kaacemy, a well-known and respected Afghan musician living in Toronto, Canada.

So I started finding people that I could talk to about it. And in the end, there were a few people that were very, very important to the Project. One was Vaheed Kaacemy, who's the musician who I worked with, who lives in Toronto and also in Kabul. And he was, when he saw a copy of the old song book, he actually burst into tears he was so excited to see these songs again.

Mr. Kaacemy joined the Project and began working on producing a new version of the song book. He did research, arranged songs, rehearsed and finally recorded 16 songs in Pashto, Hazaragi, Uzbeki and Dari. All the songs were sung by Afghan children living in Toronto.

There's 16 in the original song book. It had 16 songs and the children's drawings are here. This is a copy, so it's not great quality. What Vaheed did was go through this song book and choose most of these songs, but it had been so long that I didn't know where the songs came from, who composed them, where the music was from, so he did incredible research on each song. So the new song book also has 16 songs, but a couple of them are different from this song book.

The new, 24-page song book, entitled “Qu Qu Qu Barg-e-Chinaar: Children’s Songs from Afghanistan,” contains lyrics to all the songs printed in Dari along with colorful illustrations by the children and some drawings from the 1968 publication. An English version has also been produced with translations and transliterations of each song.

The National Geographic Society also helped fund the Project, which enabled Dr. Pascale to print the first 3,000 copies of the song book in 2006. And with financial assistance from the wife of the former Afghan ambassador to the United States, Ms. Shamim Jawad, the books, each of which included a CD and cassette tape, were distributed to schools and orphanages across Afghanistan the next year.

Mrs. Shamim Jawad was the person I went to visit in Washington, DC (USA) when I was just checking to see if it was a good idea, and I had her listen to a couple of the songs Vaheed had recorded with the children, and she put on the earphones, she listened and then she just said, “Oh!” She got so excited, she said, "I haven't heard this song since I was a child." She said, "Oh, you have to do this, you have to do this!”

To date, there's 25,000 copies of the song book out to elementary schools, and orphanages and some women’s centers. And they’re all over Afghanistan, not just in Kabul. And we’re right now ready to get 5,000 more out and in the spring there will be another 5,000. I’m hoping by the spring when we do the second 5,000, we’ll also have the teacher’s guide, to go along so that people will deliver the song books and then give the teacher this book.

All the song books, which are given to pre-schools, schools and orphanages in Afghanistan free of charge, are being used both as music texts and as tools to promote literacy.

We didn’t know this when we started the Project, that it’s also helping the women learn to read because one of the effects of being at war so long is that a lot of women grew up not learning to read, so the Songbook Project has actually helped the women who are now singing to their kids and the whole thing is working out

Daal Zaal Re Ze Jhe
Seen Sheen Saad Dhad
Toy Zoy A’yn Gha’yn
Fe Qaf Kaaf Gaaf Laam Meen Noon Waw
Fe Qaf Kaaf Gaaf Laam Meen Noon Waw
Noon Waw He Yaa Noon Waw He Yaa
Noon Waw He Yaa Noon Waw He Yaa

Dr. Pascale believes that music is essential to the development of Afghanistan’s children, and that teachers play an important role in facilitating their learning through music and song.

I spent a lot of my life teaching music and working in education and first of all music, I think, defines culture and it’s a part of who we are. In fact, one Afghan said when they took our music, they took our soul. So it’s pretty important that we keep music alive and we keep singing the songs, our children’s, our own songs.

But also music is an incredibly powerful way to teach reading and other subjects. So when children actually have rhythm in their body and they’re singing, they are more apt to learn to read easily, and research has shown that. And the teachers themselves have very little education, maybe sixth-grade education. They have no books in the school and no paper and no pencils. And they have a small, small blackboard, that’s it. So it’s really hard and they want to improve literacy in that country.

So I’m going to try to suggest that when we give out the little books, we have a teacher’s guide. I would like to put in this package now a blank notebook for the children and a pencil. In the United States there’s a song called “Old MacDonald.” Well, there’s a kind of song like that, an Ali Baba song.

It talks about Ali Baba and his garden. And in this garden he has a rabbit and he has a goat and he has a dog, and he has all sorts of things. So, it would be great for them to draw those animals and then write what they are underneath to practice writing, and then maybe come up with new animals and write what they are, and then write what they say and how does that word sound, what does it start with.

Ali Baba goes to the garden,
he has a lamb in this garden,
it goes baa baa baa, What else does he have?

Ali Baba goes to the garden,
he has a cat in this garden,
it goes meow meow meow, What else does he have?

Ali Baba goes to the garden,
he has a dog in this garden,
it goes woof woof woof What else does he have?

Dr. Pascale has seen first-hand how the Songbook Project is bringing great joy to Afghanistan’s children.

When I went back to Afghanistan, I wanted to see really how the song book was being used. Some children, they’ve had the book for a couple of years, some places. So I visited orphanages, I visited kindergartens and I found that the children really treasure this little book and they know all the songs, they can sing all the songs, every one of them, and they’re just delighted.

One of the songs that Vaheed added to the song book was an alphabet song. He took an old melody and he said they need an alphabet song, and so it was great to see the kids learning that and singing and following along with their finger, and that’s when I got the idea, “Wow, we could use this much more to teach reading than we are.”

Aa Alef Be Pe Te Se Jeem Che He Khe
Aa Alef Be Pe Te Se Jeem Che He Khe
Aa Alef Be Pe Te Se Jeem Che He Khe
Aa Alef Be Pe Te Se Jeem Che He Khe
Daal Zaal Re Ze Jhe
Seen Sheen Saad Dhad
Toy Zoy A’yn Gha’yn
Fe Qaf Kaaf Gaaf Laam Meen Noon Waw
Fe Qaf Kaaf Gaaf Laam Meen Noon Waw
Noon Waw He Yaa Noon Waw He Yaa
Noon Waw He Yaa Noon Waw He Yaa

And I think it’s just giving the teachers the ideas because they themselves weren’t taught that way. In Afghanistan most of the teaching is by rote and that’s all, so I think all we have to do is just give them a few ideas, and I think it’ll really help, and maybe if we’re lucky enough we can someday produce a second song book.

What is Dr. Pascale’s dream for the future?

My wish is that everyone keeps singing, that and certainly I wish for a peaceful world, and that we really will see Afghanistan come to a peaceful settlement. Yes, we want to keep music alive around the world.

Dr. Louise Pascale, we sincerely thank you and the generous supporters of the Afghan Children’s Songbook Project for bringing so much delight and hope to young ones in Afghanistan. We pray that your dream will soon come true and beautiful music will thrive and expand forever in the lives of all Afghans and people across the globe.

We are the Afghan people
We are Afghans from mountains
We are the Afghan people
We are Afghans from mountains
We have the same faith and tradition
We have the same religion and ideal
We have the same faith and tradition
We have the same religion and ideal
We are the Afghan people
We are Afghans from mountains

For more details on the Afghan Children's Songbook Project,
please visit www.AfghanSongBook.org
“Qu Qu Qu Barg-e-Chinaar: Children’s Songs from Afghanistan,” is available at the same website

Happy viewers, thank you for watching today’s program. May all lives be filled with the soft stream of Heaven’s music.

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