For many years, a magazine called Nowruz courier has been given to students in public schools in Iran for Nowruz holidays, which last about two weeks. In this magazine, along with homework, there are other lessons such as getting acquainted with the customs of Nowruz and New Year and going to parties, getting acquainted with different cities and ethnic groups of Iran, introducing books, painting and friendship with nature, introducing national heroes and jokes and entertainment. In the last days of the year, the magazine was given only to public school students, and the children of our school and other self-governing schools were deprived of having this entertaining and educational magazine.
One year, I tried to get this magazine for our children, but due to the fact that self-governing schools were operating illegally, they did not give it to our children. When we could not obtain a Nowruz magazine for the children, in a short time and a few days before the end of the year, we designed a few sheets for the children on which colleagues had drawn pictures, along with homework, short stories, entertainment sections, these sheets included good news and information about Afghanistan and Nowruz customs. The sheets were photocopied in black and white and given to the children. During that Nowruz holiday, our children were very happy because they also had a magazine. Our magazine was very simple and colorless compared to the government Nowruz courier magazine, but it had an Afghan identity and the children saw themselves in it, so they welcomed it greatly, I realized that while reading the letters we received from the children after the holiday. The children’s letters were full of good words, happiness and satisfaction. These letters gave me and the team we worked with, a lot of motivation and energy to pursue this work more seriously next year.
Since the summer of 2001, I have formed a team to design and produce the content of Nowruz magazines. This team was a combination of teachers from our school and other schools. Among the teachers were those who designed well and those who wrote stories and poems. This made our job much easier and improved the quality of the magazine. I announced this issue before the preparation of Nowruz magazine in a meeting we had with other self-governing school principals. The principals of self-governing schools welcomed the work when they saw it and gave us the number of their student population so that a copy could be distributed to each of them.
Given the racial, religious and gender differences in Afghan society, this issue was very important in designing a magazine in which all children could see themselves in it. We even tried to include faces, clothes, names, cities, and show the equality of the number of girls and boys in all the paintings and stories. We also tried to show equality in the division of tasks in the family, and tried to show the problems of having many children and similar examples like that, also we held letter writing competitions to pose challenging questions to challenge children’s misconceptions, by providing appropriate and standard patterns with the help of children’s poems, stories, paintings and memoirs, we promoted the spirit of mutual acceptance, friendship and tolerance among them. You can see some of these points in the drawings on the cover of these magazines These magazines were published and distributed from 1380 (2001) to 1396 (2017) for 17 years for all Afghan refugee students in self-governing schools. The community of Afghan refugee self-governing schools in Iran was one of the most cohesive human networks among refugees in Iran, which annually included between 80,000-100,000 students and about 2,500 teachers in about 300 underground schools. Almost all afghan refugee families were familiar with these self- governing schools.
During the period that these magazines were being printed and distributed to children, we became acquainted with many children’s writers, designers, poets, and graphic artists and we held a lot of meetings, from which other friendship networks were formed, that later led to the publication of magazines and books and the formation of drawing, poetry and story workshops for children.