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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Army vet who created free resource for refugee children from Afghanistan welcomed in Keighley

The Buddy Box is now being used across more than 30 schools in the UK and Europe.

Keighley Community Support (KCS) welcomed veteran Sergeant Major Mark Hill MBE and Fatema Jafari to Keighley on Friday 12 November at a meeting in Keighley Civic Centre, with Cllr Ashraf Miah and Fulzar Ahmed.

Mark Hill MBE, 52, from North Yorkshire has created a unique digital Afghan Buddy Box that helps refugee children to learn English in schools throughout the UK.

The digital Afghan Buddy Box is a free digital resource created and designed in Microsoft PowerPoint and made available online for teachers to use in their classes.

The box will help children in Bradford who fled Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover in the summer.

The online software uses text, pictures and audio to translate Afghan languages Dari and Pashto into English.

Mark Hill MBE, said he had the idea when he heard of evacuation flights from Afghanistan and he wanted to help young people feel welcome in the UK.

The Buddy Box is now being used in more than 30 schools in the UK and Europe.

The service covers topics including days of the week, numbers, colours, fruits and vegetables, school items and the time and is for teachers to use in the classroom.

The Buddy Box takes its name from the practice of pairing new school children with a buddy who helps settle in. The topics covered include days of the week, numbers, colours, fruits and vegetables, school items and the time.

The Buddy Box takes its name from the practice of pairing new schoolchildren with a buddy who helps them settle in.

Mark Hill MBE, said: “I had the idea when I heard of evacuation flights from Afghanistan and wanted to help young people feel welcome in the UK. It’s inspiring to see how Afghan Buddy Box has spread across Yorkshire and the rest of the UK and is making a real difference.”

Mr Hill also said the feedback so far has been “amazing”.

Ms Jafari was born in Afghanistan but was brought up in Iran before returning back. She is currently studying at the University of Bradford. She said: “It’s a brilliant initiative to help Afghan’s to settle their new life in the UK through effective communication”.

“Keighley Community Support always likes to get involved with new and innovative projects, so we are really pleased to support Afghan Buddy Box.”

For further information, contact Sergeant Major Mark Hill MBE, mark.hill167@mod.gov.uk.

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