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To write, illustrate and publish four books in the endangered languages of indigenous cultures in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region.
To write, illustrate and publish four books in the endangered languages of indigenous cultures in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region.
95 backers pledged $5,394 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Preserving endangered languages and traditional folklore through children's literature

Located in southeastern Bangladesh, the Chittagong Hill Tracts is a steep and forested area that is home to 13 different indigenous peoples, each with their own distinct cultural identity, history, and traditions. Many have their own languages, but those languages, and the culture they are a part of, are in danger of being erased. After decades of intense violence this region is still highly militarized and suffering from insecurities with their education system. 

Virtually all schools in the Chittagong Hill Tracts teach classes in the imposed language of Bangla, the country’s official national language. However Bangla is not a language spoken in the Hill Tracts, and as a result the children’s education is difficult, confusing, frustrating, and often futile. By second grade, 35% of students drop out, and that number jumps to 65% by fifth grade. Not only is an entire generation growing up without an education, but in being denied the opportunity to learn in their own languages, like many Native Americans and Aboriginal Australians, they lose a sense of their own cultural history and identity.

Our Golden Hour is a nonprofit organization that is expanding educational opportunities for children in the Chittagong Hill Tracts by building schools in the region, and, in collaboration with the Endangered Alphabets Project and the Champlain College Publishing Initiative, publishing educational materials in indigenous languages. With your contribution, we hope to create children’s books in the alphabets of Mro, Marma, Tripura, Chakma, and others in an effort to promote learning and to preserve the cultural identity of the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

As part of this project the students in the Chittagong Hill Tracts have been tasked with collecting oral histories from tribal elders and community leaders. A group of authors and illustrators then compile the stories into children’s books that are translated into the indigenous languages of the Hill Tracts as well as English and Bangla. As Maung Nyeu, the founder of Our Golden Hour, states, “This will not only only save our alphabets, but will also preserve the knowledge and wisdom passed down through generations. For us, language is not only a tool for communication, it is a voice through which our ancestors speak with us.”

Funding, printing and shipping of these books is expensive. To ensure these books reach the students in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, the students and professors of the Publishing Initiative have been working tirelessly to reach this objective, but we can’t do it alone. By contributing to our cause, you will not only be helping educate these children, but you will also be assisting in restoring and preserving several long-established cultures for generations to come.

Risks and challenges

Communication with the Hill Tracts, a remote and forested region, is always somewhat uncertain, and some of the indigenous communities live in especially hard-to-reach areas without electricity or cell phone access. Getting translations, therefore, is a difficult and time-consuming process, and even mobility within the Hill Tracts can be a challenge.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    Alphabet Karma
    Supporters will receive a PDF of the basic alphabet of their choice: Mro, Marma or Chakma, plus a healthy dose of good karma.

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    13 backers
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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Magical Scripts, Basic
    Second tier supporters will receive a PDF booklet of the fascinating and elegant fonts Tom Sanalitro developed for the Mro OR Marma alphabet.

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    18 backers
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    The Linguist
    Supporters will receive a PDF copy of the first storybook published in English and Marma by Our Golden Hour, A Leaf from Heaven.

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    19 backers
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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Magical Scripts, Advanced
    Supporters will receive a PDF booklet of the fonts Tom Sanalitro developed for the Mro OR Marma alphabet, PLUS a PDF edition of the first storybook printed by Our Golden Hour, A Leaf from Heaven.

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    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    Illustration Stickers,
    Supporters at this level will receive a set of stickers based on the illustrations done by Laura Tempini for the second book in our Hill Tracts series, The Price of Pride.

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $70 or more About $70

    Endangered Alphabets Supporters will receive a signed copy of Tim Brookes’ gorgeous book, Endangered Alphabets, with full-color photographs of many of his groundbreaking carvings of texts in writing systems on the brink of extinction.

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    Pledge $80 or more About $80

    Supporters at this level will receive a limited edition screen print from Endangered Alphabets calligrapher Jamie Kutner. The print will feature the word 'words' in Chakma, printed on South Asian paper and signed by the artist.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    The Storyteller
    Supporters will receive the beautifully printed edition of A Leaf from Heaven, AND a printed booklet of the fonts Tom Sanalitro developed for the Mro OR Marma alphabet.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Backers at this level will receive a unique pair of hand carved wood initials in the font of your choice from Endangered Alphabets artist, Tim Brookes.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Indigenous Carvings (limit 10)
    Those willing to go above and beyond will receive a beautiful wood carving of thanks in Mro OR Marma by Tim Brookes, founder of the Endangered Alphabets project.

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Funding period

- (30 days)