Narrating stories of resilient women through puppets and illustrations | The Daily Star
05:03 PM, August 03, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:08 PM, August 04, 2020

Narrating stories of resilient women through puppets and illustrations

The Asia Foundation and HerStory Foundation celebrate female trailblazers in Bangladesh with new children's e-book series

Celebrating the journey of resilient Bengali women to inspire young minds both at home and abroad, The Asia Foundation, in collaboration with HerStory Foundation, will launch their e-book series on the online platform Let's Read tomorrow at 6 pm, featuring 12 beautifully illustrated short stories on photojournalist Sayeda Khanam, female summiteer Nishat Mazumdar, advocate Kalpana Chakma and scientist Dr Firdausi Qadri, among others.

The e-book series is adapted from HerStories: Adventures of Supergirls, a two-volume print book that highlights the lives of female trailblazers from East Bengal and Bangladesh. "These are incredible stories of women who persevered and have positively impacted Bangladeshi society," said Kazi Faisal Bin, The Asia Foundation's country representative in Bangladesh. "We are thrilled to create this series with HerStories Foundation and bring these books to thousands of young boys and girls in Bangladesh through Let's Read, inspiring generations."

HerStory Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation that creates innovative content for development, with a focus on gender equality, youth empowerment and women's rights through storytelling, connecting children, youth and adults. "While bringing female role models to the forefront has been one of our core ideals, this initiative, in particular, has allowed us to do so by adapting to the new realities of today," shared Zareen Mahmud Hosein, Founder of HerStory Foundation. "By taking these stories to a digital platform that is accessible to all, we hope to lead by example, encouraging others to do the same."

 Let's Read, an innovative, technology driven initiative draws on The Asia Foundation's 18 offices in the region and the deep ties in local communities to build an unprecedented digital library of children's books in local languages, while cultivating a sustainable network of reading advocates, book creators and translators committed to creating meaningful reading opportunities. The platform currently has over 4,300 books in 33 languages. Twelve stories from the book series were adapted for The Asia Foundation's Let's Read platform, Asia's free digital library for children. Each story is now available for readers in both Bangla and English. Utilising Let's Read's regional network of translators, all twelve books will be translated to over 30 languages to inspire readers of all ages across Asia.

To celebrate the launch of the series, both the organisations will host live events featuring online drawing workshops and puppet readings on the Let's Read Bangladesh and HerStories Foundation Facebook pages. Every Friday at 6 pm throughout the month of August, HerStory will live stream "Drawing HerStories," workshops for children aged 6 and above, each led by a Supergirls series illustrator. In August, every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 6 pm, HerStories and Let's Read Bangladesh will host live puppet shows on their Facebook pages, in collaboration with the puppet theatre troupe Together We Can, founded by Quazi Nawshaba Ahmed, the puppeteer behind the character Ikri on Sisimpur. The shows, directed by Nawshaba herself, depicts issues like violence against women, disability awareness and women's empowerment, among others.

For this initiative, the team produced a series of 12 puppet HerStory readings with puppets Amiya (facilitated by director Quazi Nawshaba Ahmed), Shombu the owl (facilitated by 7 year old Prokrity Nazareena Ahmed) and Dhrubho Tara the star (facilitated by Ashikin Khan).  The show is produced by Amit Sinha, with Chayan Kumar Das as the art director. The programme is set to launch tomorrow.  "While designing this puppet show, I realised how kids always ask a lot of questions focusing on the minor details of each story. Subsequently, I introduced the character of Shombu, voiced by my daughter and Dhrubo Tara," shared Nawshaba. "They ask questions in between, providing insights and focusing on the morale of the story."

To explore, read and enjoy the full HerStories series on Let's Read, log on to www.letsreadasia.org.

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