Untold works with writers in areas of conflict and post-conflict, who are currently unable to share their work within or beyond their community. We develop the craft of writers, connect them to each other, and share their stories with international and local audiences 

Write Afghanistan

Write Afghanistan is the launch project of Untold. We are working remotely with emerging women writers from across Afghanistan to develop and promote their stories. The writers work with an experienced team of literary translators and editors to develop their work, which is translated from Dari and Pashto into English. Write Afghanistan is a replicable model that can be applied to other areas of conflict and post-conflict. 

“The media shows only fighting in Afghanistan; there are stories in this country that people elsewhere have no way of knowing. This is why it’s so important that our work is recognised beyond our borders.” – Writer from Write Afghanistan.


Lucy Hannah – Founder and Director

Lucy specialises in setting up and delivering creative initiatives with marginalised communities. She founded and led Commonwealth Writers which operates across 53 countries, particularly in areas with little or no creative industries. While at the BBC, she established BBC Writer’s Room which discovers, develops and champions new writing talent across the UK. She has worked with writers in areas of conflict and post-conflict, including: Afghanistan, Chechnya, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Sudan and N.E. Nigeria. She is a Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College, London, Director of the BOCAS LitFest in Trinidad and a trustee of Vital Xposure Theatre.

Sarah Gardner  – Director

Sarah Gardner has 30 years’ experience as a leader in the culture sector, covering policymaking, networking, governance, public affairs, marketing, research and international project management. From 2001-2017, she was the founding Executive Director of the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies (IFACCA) and is now an advisor to cultural organisations.

Bill Hicks – Director

Group Financial Controller at DS Smith PLC. Bill has over 20 years experience in UK FTSE 100 public company finance functions leading on external and internal accounting for companies including Tate & Lyle and AstraZeneca.

Will Forrester – Project Manager

Will is Translation and International Manager at English PEN, where he manages PEN Translates, a flagship translation grants programme, and is Editor of PEN Transmissions, a magazine of international and translated literature.  He is also Assistant Editor of the literary Review 31, and has a Masters in World Literatures (University of Oxford).  At Commonwealth Writers he facilitated the translation component for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, and managed a symposium on the politics of translation in Malaysia. 

Zarghuna Kargar – Project Advisor and Translator (Write Afghanistan)

Zarghuna is an award-winning journalist for BBC World News, based in London. She produced and presented the BBC Afghan Woman`s hour and is the author of Dear Zari, The Secret Lives of Women in Afghanistan (2012), a book that reveals the secret lives of women across Afghanistan and allows them to tell their stories in their own words. She has dedicated most of her journalistic career to working for and with Afghan women, reporting and writing their stories. She also wrote Amina’s story, in 2013’s Girl Rising documentary. Zarghuna speaks Pashto, Dari, English and Urdu.

Sunila Galappatti – Editor (Write Afghanistan)

Sunila has worked with other people to tell their stories, as a dramaturg, theatre director, editor and writer. She has worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Live Theatre, Kali Theatre and Raking Leaves.  Most recently, Sunila has worked as a fiction and non-fiction editor with Commonwealth Writers and as a Consulting Editor at Himal Southasian.  She was Director of the Galle Literary Festival (2009 & 2010) and is the author of A Long Watch, which retells the story of a prisoner of war in the Sri Lankan conflict.

Parwana Fayyaz – Translator (Write Afghanistan)

Born in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1990, Parwana was raised in Quetta, Pakistan. She earned both her B.A. in 2015, with a major in Comparative Literature (with Honors) and a minor in Creative Writing (Poetry) under the supervision of late Eavan Boland, and her M.A. in Religious Studies in 2016 from Stanford University. She then moved to Cambridge University to pursue a PhD in Persian Studies at Trinity College in September of 2016 and completed a thesis titled, ‘Poetry and Poetics: the Sufi Eye and the Neoplatonic Vision in Jāmī’s Salāmān va Absāl’, in 2020. She took up a Junior Research Fellowship as the Carmen Blacker Fellow at Peterhouse, Cambridge University in October 2020.

Dr Zubair Popalzai – Translator (Write Afghanistan)

Zubair is a Pashto, Dari and English language translation and interpretation professional with more than 20 years’ experience. He is a consultant translator for BBC Monitoring and has worked as an interpreter for United Nations special envoys in politically and militarily sensitive environments in South Asia. He also works as a legal interpreter at solicitors’ offices, tribunals, immigration detention centres and police contexts in the UK.

Patrick Spaven – Monitoring and Evaluation (Write Afghanistan)

Patrick is Technical Lead at Global MEL Contract, Conflict Stability and Security Fund. He is also an independent consultant and practitioner in monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) and Theory of Change (ToC), and Visiting Fellow at Manchester University. He works mainly in international development and in building MEL systems in governments, organisations, grant funds and programmes.

Margo Munro-Kerr – Translator (Write Afghanistan)

Margo is Iran Consultant on the Writers at Risk Team at PEN International. She studied Persian and Turkish at Oxford University, including a year abroad at the University of Tehran from 2015-16, and wrote her dissertation on Persian poetry written by Afghans living in diaspora. She worked with the Unofficial Women and Children’s Centre in Calais and the Dunkirk Refugee Women’s Centre in 2016 and 2017, primarily supporting Afghan families, as an interpreter and support worker, and is a volunteer researcher on the Afghanistan/Pakistan team at Asylos.

To find out more about our work and how you can support us, please get in touch