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Often people come to our site and are interested in learning more about our young nonprofit. So, we thought, it was a good time to reintroduce Peerbagh to our growing community. Our volunteer-led organization began in June 2021, as The Everything Times – a children’s monthly magazine in Montreal, Canada. Over time, we realized that we were ready to adopt a more robust mission and vision for our work, and that led us to the path of being incorporating as a 501c3 nonprofit in Austin, in March 2023.

Our mission

We build storytellers and improve representation by spotlighting South-Asian stories. The aim is to create a sense of belonging in South-Asian communities and create culturally enriching experiences for all through storytelling. We seek to provide resources to educators, librarians, and parents so they are empowered to encourage creative expression and empathy in children.

Why this work is critical

We believe that South-Asian communities are still unpacking the impact of colonialism. Part of the colonial project was the emphasis on assimilation where indigenous folk stories were considered less literary. However, oral storytelling is how old civilizations have shared culture with future generations for so many years. We would like to play our small part in reenergizing oral storytelling techniques and bring folk stories to our children, especially those that grow up away from their heritage cultures.

In the United States, about 54% students identify as diverse, while only 10% staff is diverse. Only 10% books for K-12 are written by authors of color. And 70% books for children and young adults feature leads that are white or animals. These statistics are pegged against our children. Often diaspora kids have to come to terms with their different identities and do not feel a sense of belonging. Our larger communities are bereft of rich stories that have engaged and captured imaginations for thousands of years. In serving and spotlighting South-Asian storytelling, we hope to imagine a world where ALL stories matter.

The story of our name

Peerbagh comes from Peer (read: pir) meaning a spiritual guide and Bagh (read: baag) meaning garden. It translates to a garden of the wise. Our roots are Kashmiri and often in our work, we highlight the Western Himalayan or Kashmiri storytelling and cultural ideas from these micro communities.

We branded to this name as we incorporated as a nonprofit in 2023. Here’s a cool story of how we thought through our logo.

What are we doing?

We create South-Asia inspired storytelling workshops for kids and adults. We also produce children’s books, events and toolkits for families and educators. Our partners include libraries, schools, nonprofits, cities, and businesses interested in building representation and inclusion through storytelling.

A look back at 2023

As in any new small business, we went through the natural cyclical growth patterns. Plenty went wrong and things also generally pointed toward the right direction. It took us a while to figure out how to garner support and how to start building momentum to serve our community. We are proud of all the work that has happened and are eager to continue moving forward.

We produced 2 children’s activity books, 8 Storytelling workshops for adults, 12 storytelling workshops for school students, 11 audio stories by kids, 14 creative competitions, 1 cultural festival where we awarded 100+ creatives. We partnered with 130+ schools, 3 nonprofits and 2 libraries, and 200+ South-Asian authors and artists.

Introducing Peerbagh Audio stories for kids

Vision and new plans for 2024

The vision is to bring storytelling resources for kids, educators and parents. We will highlight work from makers and creatives who are also invested in this and are opening doors to publishing to create more representation. Our work is always going to bring BIPOC-led children’s books and inclusive stories out in the media space for all communities.

This work has been baking for over a decade, and we hope that you’ll engage, contribute and support this effort. There are so many stories that need to be told, and there are so many ways in which they can impact us. We hope to make storytelling accessible, inclusive, and a medium of hope and excitement for children and adults alike. 

Just like 2023, we will continue to host storytelling workshops – Katha for kids. Through this program, we provide tools to kids so that they can create engaging stories. Some of these are also produced as audio stories for kids (by kids) to encourage creative confidence. Kids can also participate in our programming as student reporters and review books. Our winter story writing competition for kids is OPEN to submissions NOW. Anyone can submit stories on our winter theme. We will continue to have a few such contests throughout the school year.

New to 2024, we will focus on a central theme of South-Asian oral storytelling. We will be launching monthly themes bringing an editorial focus and energy to the way these ideas are shared throughout the year. To support parents and educators, we will be sending out thematic maker boxes (activity toolkit) for young storytellers and families. Our in-person cultural festival, Varta will come to two additional cities this year, including Austin and Ann Arbor. The festival will have author panels, books, storytelling performances, and a storytelling exhibit accompanied by an audio storytelling project that will travel to different cities. We will continue to bring festival-oriented storytelling performances for Holi and Diwali especially in Austin and Montreal.

For adults, we will host online Blue Sky workshops for educators in Spring and are open to organizations bringing us in or workshops, team engagement and storytelling activities. For corporates, our program is called Blue Sky DIVE which will be available as a team-level workshop in 2024. Blue Sky programs are a good blend of engagement and certification programs that marry storytelling techniques with work on diversity and inclusion.

Introducing Peerbagh Audio stories for kids South Asian parenting tips

Our partners and supporters

We are thrilled to have found support from partners and organizations enabling us to deliver on our programming and moving forward on our mission. If you are interested in supporting this mission, we encourage you to get involved as volunteers and join our online or in-person programs. You can also donate to support our programs. All your donations are tax exempt.

Thank you to the various organizations that have shared their support with us in 2023 and 2024. We hope to continue to work harder and make 2024 more enriching for our communities. Together, we can make the world more inclusive, one story at a time.

Introducing Peerbagh South-Asian storytelling

Stay connected with us through our Instagram page for the latest updates.

Happy new year and welcome to 2024!