His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh was our Patron for 55 years. He was a great reader who believed in the power of books, so this week we are remembering him by sharing stories of people who used books to change their lives.
Habiba and her two children were forced to flee conflict in Afghanistan after her husband was killed. After a long and perilous journey, they arrived on the island of Lesvos in Greece. She and her children have since been moved to a camp outside the city of Ioannis in northern Greece where they have access to a library filled with books you have helped to send. Here, Habiba shares her experiences and tells us of the positive difference that books are making for her and her children as they seek to rebuild their lives.
“I have come from Afghanistan and I have two children. My son is five and my daughter is 10.
In my country there was war. My husband was not a soldier. He went out and he did not come back. Some people killed him. And for my son – it was dangerous. People wanted to take him. So I had to leave, I had to find a safe place for the children.
I travelled through my country to Iran then to here. It was very hard to come so far and travel alone with two children.
We arrived in Greece four months ago. We stayed in Moira [the refugee reception centre on the island of Lesvos] for three months. It was very bad – all the people so close together. There was so much noise, so much stress. I did not sleep at all at night. It was very scary.
But now we have moved camps, things are more calm. This camp is very good – it is quiet and I can come to the library. It is a very good library.
Today I have borrowed two books – one for my son who is five years old. It is about Poppy Cat. The story is good for my son. I think for my children storybooks and alphabet books are good. These will help them learn English.
The other book I have borrowed is for me. It is a book of poetry – it’s a great book. These poems are very nice! I think the books are very good for me – for my heart. Books are very good for relaxation.
When I lived in Afghanistan I had so many books in my library! I had many cookbooks. You should send some cookbooks! I love cooking. I would like to learn to cook new things.
I have a lot of hope for my children’s future – that there will be no war. Just peace.”