Flying away with books
17-year-old Dalia grew up in the city of Ramallah, which is located in the West Bank and is part of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). Like many people living in OPT, her movements are restricted and life can be unpredictable. She attends St Joseph Elementary School in Ramallah where she finds solace in books and hope for the future of her country. This is her story.
I live in Ramallah in the West Bank. It’s a really wonderful city. People here have a lot of hospitality. They like to talk to everyone, they help each other. You never feel lonely because you always have people around you, but at the same time we have a lot of challenges, and some days you’re just depressed.
We sometimes cannot go places because there are checkpoints on the roads. My grandfather’s home is in Jerusalem so we have problems visiting because of the checkpoint. We need permission to visit my grandfather and my aunts and cousins.
Once, when I was younger and we had just moved into our home, soldiers came into our home in the middle of the night and searched the house. We children were sleeping and my mum was really scared because they had guns. They can come at any time, so you don’t feel safe. This feeling, it affects everyone. If it’s not you personally, it’s your neighbours, your friends, everyone.
When I feel happy or sad, you’ll find me here in the school library digging through the books. I feel really peaceful here because you’re out of reality. If you have any problems, you’re not thinking of them, you’re thinking of the book you’re reading – the stories, the adventures that are happening in the book. It takes you to another place. It’s like you’re flying away.
My favourite books are crime stories by Agatha Christie. In one book, she mentioned Palestine. I was like ‘oh my goodness, Palestine was a really interesting place!’
I also really like reading about Palestinian people – their experiences, their lives and how Palestine used to be. It used to be the place for culture. But now it is not that way. As young Palestinians, we should change that through our education, through reading books. So that’s what I really encourage other young people to do.
Through education, we can do things here so there is no more war and killing. Despite the suffering we live in, we can achieve things in life, change things and change our history.
The hope that Dalia finds in books is a poignant reminder of how valuable books are for those facing conflict and political uncertainty. With your help, we are proud to support Dalia’s school and many other schools across the Occupied Palestinian Territories and other countries affected by conflict and crisis.
On 11th June, Rageh Omaar will present our BBC Radio 4 appeal. In this blog, he tells us why he’s so pleased to support our work.
In February, devastating earthquakes rocked Syria and Turkey. When the time comes, we stand ready to restock reading spaces that have been destroyed – because for students like Ahmed, education can’t wait.
We join the world in expressing our deepest sympathies to everyone affected by the recent earthquakes in Turkey.