Shantee Volunteer Association (SVA) in Afghanistan

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The Shantee Volunteer Association (SVA) is a global organization that fosters a peaceful atmosphere where individuals can coexist and learn harmoniously.

Mission and Purpose

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The SVA is dedicated to providing hope and support to those in need through reading and creating a brighter future. Specifically, their focus is on creating safe spaces for children to read. Additionally, they have been actively involved in providing humanitarian relief and assistance in Afghanistan since 2003.

Access to education is a fundamental human right, and the Constitution of Afghanistan (2004) ensures this right for all citizens. Over the years, the number of girls enrolled in primary schools has risen from zero (0) in 2001 to 2.8 million in 2018. External funding has significantly impacted education spending, accounting for approximately 49% in 2020. Nevertheless, while there has been notable progress, specific challenges remain concerning access, learning, and outcomes. Recent research indicates a need for early learning opportunities, enhancing the qualifications of teaching staff and providing better-quality learning experiences.[i][1], lack of school buildings and library Facilities, Long-term Conflict, Poverty, child marriage, and forced marriage prevented them from getting full access to free education or ensuring adequate learning quality.

According to research, in 2015, there were approximately 18000 schools in Afghanistan, but only 10 percent had a school library. The project's goal was to improve the quality of education by promoting library activities in elementary schools and public libraries in Afghanistan.

The SVA Overview of Activities:

  •  Publishing Books for required learning subjects and materials. (521-Published picture books). Meanwhile, more than130 Published books for Afghanistan Office Only,
  •  Constructing and maintaining School buildings for local communities (424-Constructed schools)
  •  Developing quality learning systems at the national and international levels with the local governments,
  •  Opened around 1003 libraries.
  • Provided a platform for children who have never been in school and never used picture books.
  • Conducted 347035 campaigns to deliver picture books,
  • Ø Around 16,010,000 library users and beneficiaries. [ii][2]

[i] UNSECO, The right to Education. What is a stake in Afghanistan? UNSECO. 2021.pp: 7

[ii] Shantee Volunteer Association website:

Origins and Development

The SVA was founded in Thailand in 1980 to aid Cambodian refugees through cultural and educational activities. Since 2003, the SVA has been operating in Afghanistan to achieve a peaceful society that fosters coexistence and learning despite the ongoing long-term strife in the region.

  • In 1981, Volunteers of the JSRC established the Sotoshu Volunteer Association (SVA),
  •  In 1989, The SVA opened a vocational training center in the Klong Toey slums in Bangkok, Thailand,
  •  In 1991, The Cambodia Office was established in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and the Sikkha Asia Foundation (SAF), a local subsidiary of the SVA in Thailand, was also established,
  •  In 1992, The Laos Office was established in Vientiane, Laos,
  •  In 1995, SVA undertook relief activities for the victims of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake,
  •  In 1999, The SVA initiated its "Campaign to Deliver Picture Books. “The association rename the "Shanti Volunteer Association (SVA),"
  •  In 2000, Myanmar (Burma) refugee project office was established,
  •  In 2003, The Afghanistan Office was established in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan,
  •  In 2011, SVA began helping survivors of the Great East Japan Earthquake. Changed corporate status to "public interest incorporated association."
  •  2014, The Myanmar Office established,
  •  In 2016, The Nepal Office was established,
  •  In 2019, the Myanmar Border Project office was established,
  •  In 2020, It began helping children in Japan with foreign.

The SVA has been in contact with the MoE and MoIC since its establishment as part of its scope of work. The Afghan Ministry of Education (MoE) has announced a policy to establish libraries in 36% of all schools by 2021. SVA began its first mission in Afghanistan in 2003, initially in Nangarhar Province, and later opened a regional office in Kabul in 2013. At the same time, an agreement was signed between SVA and the MoE, outlining the goals and activities to be carried out.

  •  Enhancing learning quality education through library activities for children,
  •  Developing library management,
  •  Building schools library,
  •  Publishing books and Teaching Materials,
  •  Construction and maintenance building,
  •  Establish a long-life learning System,
  •  Access to learning activities.

The SVA targeted areas were:

  •  In Kabul (KBL), Balkh (BKH), Herat (HRT), Nangarhar (Jalalabad, JAA), and Laghman (LGM), there are several libraries for children, including the SVA Children's Library, MoIC Children's Libraries, and community libraries. Additionally, the SVA s
  •  Supports school libraries in KBL, JAA, and LGM provinces.

These libraries

  •  Offer various cultural activities to engage children, such as drawing pictures and reciting traditional poems.
  •  Regular Library Activities include; the circulation of books and browsing,
  •  Drawing class, sewing class, particular teaching class, silence reading class, for those children who are from low-income families and work as child labourers in the market, or IDPs and orphans,
  •  Publishing picture books and paper theatres (110 copies of story pic books and +27 copies of PPT) in two local languages and distributing them to the schools and public libraries. [i][2]

The Children's Library offers learning opportunities to those who cannot attend school or have never had the chance to learn. This project has been ongoing in Afghanistan since 2013, with the support of MoIC.

[i] Shantee Volunteer Association website:

Organizational Structure, Membership, and Funding

Since SVA was established, it has worked as an international Organization to create a culture of learning among targeted countries collaborating for essential support that differs from place to place to social circumstances. Countries that SVA has worked with include: Afghanistan, Nepal,Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Thai, Burma Refugee Camp (Myanmar) Japan.

SVA has two types of funding resources:

  •  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MoFA) and Japan Platform (JPF) have provided government funding sources.
  • Private funding sources include companies, associations, and individuals through donations.

Specializations, Methods, and Tools

SVA has worked with the Afghan government to carry out projects in distant and rural regions of Afghanistan. These projects aimed to provide humanitarian support to locals who have not received such assistance before.

The Children's Library projects in Afghanistan have been implemented in these central provinces: (Nangahar, Kabul, Konar, Bamiyan, Balkh, and Heart).

Targeted Population: 

The project provides access Library to public and private primary schools for students in first through sixth grade. Additionally, children of various ages and perspectives have benefited from the public and private libraries involved in the project. Teachers, library staff, ministries staff, and focal points are also involved.

Major Projects and Events

Here is an example of SVA efforts and library activities:

On February 13, 2017, SVA held a “Library Skills training program” workshop in Bamiyan, made possible by funding from the International Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA). ADRA is a well-known international humanitarian organization that operates in over 107 countries, focusing on health, education, livelihood, and emergency relief. SVA implemented the program in the ADRA regional office in Bamiyan response efforts.[i] [4]

In this project, SVA's role was limited to conducting the workshop, while ADRA took charge of funding, organizing, selecting participants, evaluating, and reporting. This project marked SVA's first experience with a partnership program for the children's library project in Bamiyan, which involved collaborating with other international organizations, including ADRA in Afghanistan.

This project targeted Zarin and Kart-e-Sulh schools, encompassing a diverse range of participants in age, gender, educational background, and profession. The group comprised 33 individuals, including teachers, trainers, principals, and three administrative employees.

from ADRA. The workshop's objective was to encourage library activities for children in Bamiyan, and it was conducted using a Q&A format. Practical exercises were also implemented to facilitate comprehension and individual development. After the workshop, ADRA awarded participants with a Certificate of Completion following workshop evaluation.

Workshops Agenda: It was designed to continue for three days, and it was focused on the following topics:

Day 1

  •  Introduction to SVA activities,
  •  The need to create libraries for Children,
  •  Why are picture books and legends chosen for children?
  •  Types of libraries,
  •  Storytelling and its benefits,
  •  Teamwork (Question & Answer),
  •  Value of images in legendary texts,
  •  The procedure of reading stories in comic books,
  •  Story reading practice,
  •  Advantages of using school libraries,
  •  On verification and games for children,
  •  Prepare ground crafts for children in the library averment.
  •  Teamwork (Questions & Answers)

Day 2

  •  A brief overview of the first-day topics,
  •  Methods of reading skills progress in Afghanistan,
  •  Capabilities and life skills,
  •  Children and Psychology,
  •  Positive and negative effects of this phenomenon in schools, families, and society,
  •  Teamwork (Questions & Answers)
  •  The overall conclusion and knowledge exchange.
  •  What type of employee should be hired at the Children's Library?
  •  The main principles for librarians,
  •  General duties of a librarian,
  •  Telling stories through mental games,
  •  Teamwork (Questions & Answers)
  •  Storytelling by handcraft.

Day 3

  •  A brief overview of the second day,
  •  The unique feature of the librarians,
  •  Borrowing Books from the Escrow system,
  •  Methods of using the Library,
  •  Exploring the influence of storytelling on children's mental development.
  •  Teamwork (Questions & Answers,
  •  Paper's theatre and practice,
  •  Processing of making paper theatre books,
  •  Using the library assessment forms,
  •  Storytelling practice & Use of the paper theatre box,
  •  Teamwork and overall conclusion of the workshop.

During the program, Sultana Safi, the trainer from SVA Library, thoroughly explained the concept and ensured that the participants comprehensively understood the materials. Safi emphasized the importance of the Children's Library in enhancing children's learning skills and how to cater to their needs. Furthermore, the librarian must undergo training on handling and treating them. During her presentation, Sultana emphasized the importance of developing storytelling skills and allowed volunteer participants to practice these skills in a mental game format in front of the class. She also addressed the significant correlation between Psychology and Children, explaining that understanding children's behaviour and capacity for learning knowledge and consciousness is critical. Sultana

 highlighted the usefulness of paper theatre as a tool for children's learning, noting that it helps them quickly and memorably grasp concepts through pictures and colours.

Following each session, the trainer grouped the class into smaller teams to encourage collaboration. The participants brainstormed their ideas, developed concepts, and committed to supporting each other. The class policy emphasized open discussion, allowing everyone to share their experiences and stories freely. Overall, the exchange of ideas was encouraged and valued.

Bamiyan's lack of a school library posed a challenge for children and experts trying to establish a stable library system. However, following a workshop, evaluations revealed that most participants recognized the importance of libraries for children in enhancing the quality of education for those in school and those without access to libraries.

The program had 33 participants, 13 of whom were female and 20 were male. Some school principals were essential in sharing their ideas and making decisions. Meanwhile, the class was divided into five groups, and each group presented their ideas and opinions about how storytelling can benefit children.

Upon completion of the program, the

  •  Participants made the following commitments:
  • To support the process and its goals
  • To encourage children in families, schools, and society to visit the children's Library and improve their skills.
  • To recognize the vital role of children's libraries and their positive impact on learning
  • Many of them requested story picture books, which SVA later provided.
  • They also requested establishing a children's library section inside the Bamiyan public library.
  •  Established Library in 16 schools that had no library and provided and recruited a librarian for Kart-e-Sulh school,
  • They Requested to conduct more workshops and seminars in this regard. [ii][3]

Balkh Province:

SVA's primary objectives in Mazar-e-Sharif City, Balkh province, were to create libraries for children and provide the necessary equipment. After discussing with the Library Director and holding various meetings, SVA sent their team on October 18, 2016, to address the requirements. They successfully established a library at Balkh public building and reserved a designated room. The technical team from SVA was responsible for installation and decoration. Following this, a three-day workshop was conducted for the Mawlana Khasta public library librarians on September 25, 2016.

Three days' workshop agenda was included:

  • Primary Responsibilities of Children Librarian and Criteria,
  • Children's Library and Methods of Use,
  • Storytelling through handcrafts and Picture books impacts quality learning.

The Library was officially established during an inauguration party on September 30, 2016. The library director gave the opening speech, welcoming guests and committing to supporting the initiative. Regional and international media, such as Ashna TV Broadcasting Channel in the USA and Balkh Regional Radio/TV reporters, were invited to cover the event. The board of the Directorate awarded the SVA team an Appreciation Letter as a way of recognizing their efforts.

Herat province:

In 2016, SVA collaborated with the Ministry of Information and Culture to establish a children's Library in Herat's public library building. The team travelled to Herat, installed, and decorated the room, furnished it with quality books and learning materials, and conducted a three-day workshop for the librarians.

Three days' workshop agenda was included:

  • Primary Responsibilities of Children Librarian and specific criteria,
  •  Children's Library and Methods of Use,
  •  Storytelling through handcrafts and Picture books impacts quality learning.
  • Challenges:
  •  Weak coordination among Afghan stakeholders in this province,
  • Security concern: A suicide bomber attacked and exploded in the city. Thus, the deadly explosions delayed the process.

Due to security concerns, the library was inaugurated without the government authorities and October 13, 2016. [iii][6]

[i] ADRA Website:

[ii] SVA, Project report. 2017.pp:7

[iii] [6] SVA, Project Report, 2016.

Analysis and Lessons Learned

The key to sustainable development is quality learning. People can gain knowledge and learn together when a society is peaceful and harmonious. SVA has collaborated with other Afghan government agencies to create a platform for Afghans to thrive in a society that is filled with complex issues. Furthermore, the project was intended to embrace diverse values and ideas and encourage dialogue to coexist peacefully with others.[i][2] Meanwhile, the Children's Library assisted children in improving their reading skills. An enthusiastic librarian must attract children and be comfortable while learning. [ii][5]

The importance of the Children's Library cannot be overstated, especially in Afghanistan, where children have been lacking learning resources for many years. Using new and innovative teaching tools can significantly enhance the learning experience. The evaluation report showed that library projects in Mazar, including picture books and paper theatre concepts, significantly impacted children's learning and motivation. Thus, found it fascinating. The library provides a platform for children to have peace of mind, know how to read and write and explore new learning materials to make a bright future.

[i] Shantee Volunteer Association website:

[ii] Osu Children’s Library Fund:


See Also


[1] UNSECO, The right to Education. What is a stake in Afghanistan? UNSECO.2021.

[2] Shantee Volunteer Association website:

[3] SVA, Project report. 2017.

[4] ADRA Website:

[5] Osu Children's Library Fund:

[6] SVA, Project Report, 2016.

External Links


The SVA list of Published can be found on the website as well.