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Who runs the show: 
Claudine Boeglin (Aug. '02 - Nov. '03)
Antoine Pouly (Nov. '03 - present) 

When it all started: August 2002

Where it all happens: Kabul, Afghanistan

Who makes it happen: Fifteen freelance journalists

Best office perk: "We have a new blackboard hanging in the entrance of our office where anyone can leave a message, share a quote, or display a drawing for the others at AÏNA. I hope it will be as interactive and fun as I envisioned it."

Business as usual: "I like the way everyone is so welcoming and respectful. Afghan people laugh a lot, and many are in permanently good humor. Someone is always proposing
a cup of chai or hot chocolate. The difficult thing about this sort of family atmosphere is getting everyone to respect deadlines."

Parvaz Zoom In

Take an inside look at the colorful pages of Parvaz.

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Photo captions by
Saadia Iqbal

Parvaz Feature Image
Images courtesy Parvaz    
By Claudine Boeglin, Editor-in-Chief, Parvaz

A New Magazine Helps Afghan Children Build Dreams

It's August, and Kabul is powdered with dust and car exhaust. The traffic and the heat are unbearable. But 160 feet (50 meters) from the chaos, the Afghan Media Center (AÏNA) offers a serene work atmosphere for 70 Afghan journalists producing eight publications. In front of the garden, the office of the children's magazine Parvaz is a shady room filled with pictures of children and colorful drawings by them.

Parvaz, the first full-color magazine for Afghan children, offers a bimonthly escape for Dari-and Pashto-speaking girls and boys from 7 through 14 years old. It was launched in August 2002 as a means of educating and entertaining children, bridging gaps between parents and their kids, and providing an educational tool for teachers. The Farsi word for "flight," Parvaz presents vivid artwork and photographs aimed at encouraging creativity and freedom of expression among Afghan children. It's all about seeing things differently and letting imaginations fly.

On this particular afternoon only a handful of people are working together. Mariam, 22, researches the traditions of Kuchee nomads on the slow-loading Internet. Siam and Nasratullah share the same chair while perfecting their design skills on Quark Express. Tamim, 14, is drawing the Tower of Pisa for the Travel Around the World section in an upcoming issue featuring Italy. And 25-year-old Capac, the magazine's graphic designer, is busy drawing a map of the world for the layout of the new Game section.

Producing the bi-monthly 64-page color magazine is a tremendous effort. Color printing is prohibitively expensive in Kabul, so Parvaz is printed in Tehran, Iran. The Afghan government airline, Ariana, flies the magazine back into the country on irregular deadlines, and their apologetic faxes are small consolation.

But the delay doesn't matter. Distribution starts in Kabul and covers 16 of Afghanistan's 32 provinces. Its main readership—Afghan children—dash to get their hands on a copy. And for the very reasonable price of 10 Afghanis (equivalent to the cost of two packs of Korean chewing gum), they sell fast!

A recent cover—dedicated to friendship—features two Afghan boys whose hearty laughter shows off new teeth just growing in. Masoud Wasiq, a 13-year-old student photojournalist and regular contributor to Parvaz, shot the photo on a street corner in Karte Parwan, a neighborhood in west Kabul.

The Parvaz team is a mix of journalists, illustrators, and photographers ranging in age from 13 to 46. All contributors gather for the Saturday editorial meeting, where they participate in loud, lively debates fueled with steaming hot chaï.

Almost 80 percent of editorial production is done in Kabul. A story on hats was shot in AÏNA's garden with 15 child models from the Aschiana Center next door, a non-government organization that provides support and training to homeless children. A grape featured in the Fruit section was selected from a kilo of candidates at the bazaar. Parvaz guarantees authentic Afghan material.
The magazine's content is equally divided into Dari and Pashto, the two official languages of Afghanistan. There is a separate editor handling quality control for each language. Since journalists writing in Pashto are hard to come by, editor Said Mahiudin Hashimi needs to translate some texts from Dari to Pashto.

When it all comes together, children can enjoy an issue filled with a variety of topics. Main features are devoted to social issues such as children's rights, education of girls, and traffic and pedestrian safety. Panoramic, double-page spreads present a medley of fairy tales, science articles, games, historical legends, technology trivia, and cultural traditions. And each issue includes children's perspectives.
In an environment where the harshness of daily life obliges Afghan children to work hard to support their families, Parvaz returns childhood to them while helping to create the journalism stars of tomorrow. This afternoon one of our contributors, Masoud, came in after school wearing a look of pride. A kid had stopped him in the street yelling, "You are Masoud! I have seen you in Parvaz!"

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Online Extra
Learn about AÏNA's other projects Ainain Afghanistan, and find out how you can help.

Reza Bio
Read about how Reza, founder of AÏNA, first started Parvaz magazine as a teenager in Iran.

More to Explore

In More to Explore the National Geographic magazine team shares some of its best sources and other information. Special thanks to the Research Division.




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