Yosef, 8, lives in Beit Furik, a small town in the West Bank, Occupied Palestinian Territories. Beit Furik sits just outside the city of Nablus, but the on-going political instability in in the West Bank means that there is a military checkpoint between Beit Furik and Nablus. The checkpoint closes regularly and when it is shut children who attend Nablus schools cannot attend, parents cannot go to work and even emergency services cannot get through.
These closures are disruptive and upsetting for all of Beit Furik’s residents, but particularly for children like Yosef. In these challenging circumstances, the town’s library provides a safe, welcoming place for Yosef and other children to read and learn. Local librarians use the books we send to run enriching activities which help the children deal with their upset and frustration with the difficulties the checkpoint causes.
Here Yosef tells us how he feels about his local library.
I live an hour away from Beit Furik. I walk all the way from my house to school and from school to the library. It’s a tiring distance, but I like to come to the library to read books. It’s a good place for reading because it is quiet. We also do activities. Today the librarian read a story for us [Winnie the Witch’s Amazing Pumpkin] and we had a discussion about it. Then we drew pictures imagining what we would turn pumpkins into. I drew a house.
When I am older, I want to be an architect because I like drawing. Books will help me become an architect because they help me to think in different ways and give me ideas about drawings.
I like reading English books because I also want to learn English. I want a good grade in English at school – you need high grades for engineering. My favourite book is Tanino Elkhafi [Disappearing Tanino]. It’s about a boy who has to memorise something to say in class but he can’t remember it. So he wishes he would disappear and he does.
Books also taught me about justice. I read about a book about two boys who hit an old woman and how she sought justice. If I didn’t have access to books, I’d never have learned justice.
This is the first in a series of blogs from the children of Beit Furik and we look forward to sharing more of their stories soon.