Chai wa Dastan (Tea and Tale) is an initiative aimed at sharing stories and lessons of empowerment, resilience, and leadership, through the revitalization of the oral tradition of storytelling. The initiative features several projects including the Chai wa Dastan Podcast and the Long Story Short podcast. The CwD Podcast is designed to provide refugee and immigrant women from Afghanistan, who are often overlooked by society, with a platform to share their stories and culture with each other and the wider world. The Long Story Short podcast takes a wider look at civic leadership, highlighting everyday leaders of all backgrounds.
The oral tradition of storytelling is an inclusive approach to communication that is steeped in thousands of years of culture and practice. Chai wa Dastan is influenced by traditional Afghan storytelling in which people gather at one another's houses and share stories of myths and legends around a tray of cups filled with tea. Chai wa Dastan aims to harness its beauty and strengths to aid participants in their attempts to use their voices, connect with others, share life lessons, and celebrate one another. Instead of focusing on titles and heroes, Chai wa Dastan enables refugee and immigrant women to tell their stories of resilience, perseverance, strength, struggle, and hope, verbally in their native language or English via the podcast series.
Persistent instability and conflict involving civil war, political upheaval, and persecution have displaced millions of people around the world. Women and girls represent almost half of the displaced migrants and refugees worldwide. With the help of resettlement agencies many countries have welcomed thousands refugee and immigrant women fleeing war and persecution from countries such as Afghanistan. These women have endured years of trauma, discrimination, violence, and a lack of equal opportunity that restrains them from achieving their full potential. Even when resettled in their new countries, some women continue to face challenges in rebuilding their lives. They may feel isolated and incapable of contributing to their new society when, in actuality, they are remarkable women filled with rare and powerful experiences that give them the potential to positively contribute to their new communities. Additionally, the ongoing anti-immigration rhetoric in some host countries, along with the inequalities created by the COVID-19 pandemic, has contributed to this issue as it has increased the risks and obstacles faced by vulnerable women. Two main issues that prevent them from tapping into their potential for progressive contribution is the lack of a greater community to connect to (rather than being pressured into assimilating) and a lack of literary/language skills to communicate with. Chai wa Dastan aims to play a small part in addressing these issues.