Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cross Cultural Extravaganza to Support Literacy in Afghanistan

Fighting Illiteracy in Afghanistan is No Laughing Matter to Torontonians

Or Is It?

Centuries-Old Folk Hero Stars in Benefit Multicultural Laugh-Fest to Provide Books for Needy Afghan Children

TORONTO (Oct. 1, 2010) -- Mulla Nasrudin, the centuries-old star of countless jokes in Afghanistan and other countries throughout Central Asia and the Middle East, will be the guest of honor at a zany cross-cultural extravaganza in Toronto to benefit needy children in Afghanistan. Afghans so love the Mulla's wacky wit that they claim him as their native son. But so do many other Middle Eastern, Central Asian and other cultures.

Actually, nobody really knows who Nasrudin was or if he ever existed. But that's not stopping the Institute for Cross-Cultural Exchange (ICE) from celebrating his birthday on Nov. 13, 2010 from 7:30 to 10:30 pm at Emmanuel Howard Park United Church 214 Wright Ave., Toronto. Canada's finest musicians, jokesters, dancers and storytellers will perform at this madcap multinational mirth fest featuring Georgian, Afghan, Arabic, and Jewish cultures.

The program will feature:

Drew the Dramatic Fool
George Sawa . Suzanne Meyers Sawa
Rhythm of the Nile Dance Co. and Artistic Director Nada El Masriya
Shalva Makharashvili . Andrea Kuzmich . Reid Robins of Zari
Eric Stein . Ray Dillard
Dan Yashinsky . Aubrey Davis . Sandra Carpenter-Davis
Anyone wishing to tell a Mulla tale!

Tickets $25 Family $45
Order Online: By Phone: 416-537-2006 Or Email:

Can't attend? Why not give the gift of literacy? For under $1 you can provide a book for an Afghan child.  Visit:

For more information:

For Press Release:

For more about Nasrudin:

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ICE ( is an all-volunteer Canadian charity that addresses family literacy and promotes
understanding between cultures. So far, it has donated over 46,000 books to seventy Canadian non-profit literacy groups serving needy children Canada-wide. This year ICE is beginning a new initiative in Afghanistan, where literacy rates are among the lowest in the world. Its aim is to provide as many Afghan children as possible with their very own books. For at least 95% of them, these will certainly be the first books they own -- and may well be tales that their grandparents recognize from their own childhood. We hope that repatriating these stories in book form will be a comforting bridge to literacy and a legacy for young Afghans and their future.

Proceeds from the Toronto fundraiser will provide beautifully illustrated Dari-Pashto versions of traditional oral tales from Afghanistan and Central Asia, collected and adapted for children by Afghan author Idries Shah ( These delightful multi-functional "Teaching Stories" stimulate insight, flexibility and other higher-order thinking skills. They help children and adults alike better understand themselves and their world. Similarly Nasrudin's outrageous multi-dimensional tales have provoked laughter and thought in young and old throughout the East for centuries ( On November 13, Torontonians will have a rare opportunity to share the same jokes and help some needy Afghan children learn to read.

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