May 1, 2012 — At a reception on March 29 in New York City, The Asia Foundation and Books for Asia announced a brand-new technology start-up fund, Access4Asia and debuted the film, “Kabul ER: The Power of a Book.” Special guest Dr. Vartan Gregorian, former President of the New York Public Library and current President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, spoke to the crowd of publishers, donors, Asian government representatives, and executives from the philanthropy, education, and technology sectors at The Greenhouse at Scholastic.
The Asia Foundation’s longest-running program, Books for Asia impacts 9 million people each year through book donations to universities, research institutes, and libraries in 18 developing countries. Speaking at the event, Dr. Gregorian shared his personal story of how books changed his life: “as a young boy in Iran, books provided me salvation and imagination. Without books and access to stories, I wouldn’t be here today. I am eternally grateful to The Asia Foundation for taking the power of books around Asia.” Viewers were transfixed by the film, “Kabul ER,”which examines the crisis in Kabul’s public hospitals – frontlines of care for Afghans – and the near total lack of access to current medical textbooks there. Last year Books for Asia donated 4,000 medical textbooks and reference materials to Afghan health institutions.
“There is an information crisis in all the countries we work in,” said Books for Asia’s Naita Saechao. Building on its vast network of Asian partners, Books for Asia’s Access4Asia will support promising technology projects incubated by its in-country staff that further the program’s mission to improve access to information in developing Asia. “We know that an educated population is better equipped to combat poverty and disease, and to promote economic development and stability,” said Asia Foundation President David D. Arnold. Publishers, partners, and donors who attended the New York event included high-level representatives from: Wiley, W. W. Norton, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, LexisNexis, Pearson Foundation, Association of American Publishers, and OOCL. Watch a slideshow of highlights from the event.