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Selene BiffiTelling ancient tales

Published in 2012Time to read: 0min 48s

A young Italian woman has set up a storytelling school to preserve Afghanistan’s oral heritage, give hope to the country’s youth and spread crucial development information.


Selene Biffi is an Italian social entrepreneur whose work focuses on youth empowerment and education. She now leads three social enterprises designed to improve the lives of children and young people in many parts of the world.

The minute I discovered social entrepreneurship, I knew I had found my calling.

One of those projects is a school for storytellers, which she established with Rolex’s support to preserve traditional Afghan folk tales and oral heritage by creating a venue for master storytellers to teach their craft to younger generations. The skills and practical knowledge acquired help students uphold the body of ancient tales and learn to create new narratives that carry important developmental messages to impoverished communities.

Two classes of young students have already graduated from the Qessa Academy in Kabul. On completion of the course, most students have started internships, working mainly at a local radio station and as teachers. Biffi has co-authored a book about her Afghanistan experience, The Teacher of Kabul, which was published in Italian in 2014. Security risks and Biffi’s other commitments mean she spends long periods away from Kabul, but she returned there in 2016 to continue her work with the Qessa Academy and to consult for other organizations.

  • 30,000

    Number of people who have been reached by Qessa Academy’s students


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