Tag Archives: Palestine

Books that inspire

In the West Bank, books you help to send aren’t just being read. They are being used to inspire budding artists, create new ideas for local publishing and take young people on journeys to far off cultures and lands.

Here, Renad Qubbaj the General Director of Tamer Institute for Community Education tells us more.

The books from Book Aid International are important for Tamer Institute Resource Centre, artists in Palestine, children and teachers.

Raghad reads aloud
Librarian Raghad reads to children from a donated book at Battir Municipal Library

They help children here to travel to cities and countries and cross borders that they are not able to cross in reality:

I read short stories for the children. These books help us to discover the whole world because we are not able to visit due to the Palestinian situation. Without them, we wouldn’t have enjoyed all the journeys we went on and continue going on together.

– Raghad, Librarian, Battir Municipal Library.

The books are also a great source of inspiration for us at the Tamer Institute – they provide our resource centre with many ideas that can be developed into reading activities.

We also have a small publishing unit and these books give Tamer and Palestinian artists and designers ideas for illustrations and book design.


School librarian Maha
School librarian Maha entertains children with a reading from one of the books published by Tamer

In 2018, we also received many braille books from Book Aid International and these books are not found locally so it’s a great opportunity for blind people to read.

For those interested in learning English or improving  their language, the books are a great source:

I study English Language and Literature at Bethlehem University. I love reading and writing and learning new languages and discovering new cultures. Therefore, I think I’m lucky to have English books in our library. They really help me in building my English language.

– Raghad, Librarian, Battir Municipal Library.

Many school pupils and university students who are interested in visual art use these books to learn from and design games, cards, films and pop up books. They find the books very inspiring.

I’m interested in drawing and I use the books you donate to know more about illustrators and their work. These books gives joy to my life, and the opportunity to feel free. I think that without these books I wouldn’t have the chance to know about other cultures and the different artistic styles including illustrations and illustrations from different cultures.

– Mayas Omar, 13, Beitforik village, Nablus.


Gaza Health Sciences Library

Supporting healthcare in Gaza

The Gaza Health Sciences Library in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is the main medical library in the Gaza strip. Its books provide medical staff and students in Gaza with the vital information they need to deliver quality healthcare.

Border closures and air and sea blockades mean that Palestinians living in Gaza are unable to freely access other parts of the Palestinian Territories or the outside world. Blockades also mean that the import of goods such as books is limited. The books you help to send to this library are therefore a lifeline for the medical staff and students to keep their knowledge and skills up to date.

Here Mahmoud, Project Coordinator at the library tells us more about the difference the books you help to send are making to healthcare in Gaza.


A lady studing
The Gaza Health Sciences Library provides medical practitioners with a range of services


We have lived under blockade for more than 12 years. Our port is closed and we have three hours of electricity a day.

Our vision for the library is to be a modern library, like other libraries outside. So we try to develop our services and offer services like books, journals, online subscriptions but the blockade prevents us from keeping the books in the library updated.

We have been supported by Book Aid International for three years and since then we have seen an increase in the use of the library. Our doctors can’t go out so these books keep them updated like other doctors in the world. Without the books from Book Aid International, all the books in the library would be more than fifteen years old.


Man studying
The brand new books you help to send enable medical practitioners to keep their knowledge up-to-date


The books you help to send users – new books in more than 48 different subjects in health – offer a big help to our users. They give them windows they can look through to keep them updated with new information and help them improve their knowledge more and more.

My hopes for the future are to develop the health sector in various ways and also for people in Gaza to have freedom.


Lagam library Kenya

Our top 10 highlights from 2017

Thanks to your support we achieved so much in 2017!

With your help, our books reached readers in TWENTY countries, over 88,000 primary school children are enjoying new books in school thanks to our Inspiring Readers programme, more than 5,000 books reached displaced people in Greece and much more besides.

We couldn’t have done it without you.

Take a look at the ten short clips below for more of our 2017 highlights.


Highlight 10

60-year-old Florence in Kenya joined an adult education class and using the books you helped to send, learned to read for the very first time.

Highlight 9

Schools and libraries in the Occupied Palestinian Territories received twice as many books.

Highlight 8

Our amazing donors smashed our Open Doors Children’s Corners appeal’s £600,000 target, giving thousands of children in seven countries vibrant reading spaces to discover books.

Highlight 7

30,000 brand new books reached readers in Rwanda.

Highlight 6

3,806 books were shipped to the world’s youngest nation, South Sudan.

Highlight 5

5,541 books reached displaced people in Greece.

Highlight 4

Books you helped to send are now filling a library in rural Uganda where they are helping children develop a love of reading and farmers to cope with the effects of climate change.

Highlight 3

88,903 primary school children in Cameroon, Kenya and Malawi now have brand new books in their classrooms thanks to our Inspiring Readers programme.

Highlight 2

Children in Nairobi’s slums are now enjoying Book Havens in three local libraries.

Highlight 1

Thanks to your support, we sent books to 20 countries, which will reach over 20 million readers!

Thank you for your support in 2017. Here’s to getting even more books to the people who need them the most in 2018!

For more information about the work you supported in 2017, take a look at the links below.


Pupils at Korieama Primary School

2017 year in review: 20 countries in just twelve months

As 2017 draws to a close, we are looking back over the last twelve months and forward to 2018. In this blog, our Chief Executive Alison Tweed reflects on the highlights from 2017 and gives us a preview of the year ahead.

This has been a year of change for our team at Book Aid International as we focused on putting our Vision 2020: Where Books Change Lives strategy into action. Launched in March, our new strategy commits us to ensuring that the books we send reach those who face the greatest barriers to accessing books.


Boys reading
Two friends share a book at Battir Library in the West Bank


To begin making that vision a reality, we focused on establishing partnerships in new countries where people lack the books they need, as well as continuing to support all our more longstanding library and education partnerships.

The books we provided reached people in some of the most difficult to reach places in the world who are determined to keep reading in the face of instability and uncertainty about the future. We sent books to universities in Somalia, to transit camps in Greece, to schools for Syrian refugees in Lebanon and to the world’s youngest nation which continues to be gripped by conflict, South Sudan.


Pacifique leads a reading activity
Taking part in a reading activity at Esperance Community Centre’s library in Rwanda


We also doubled the number of books provided to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, sent books to the Caribbean island of Antigua to support people displaced from Barbuda and Dominica by Hurricane Irma and began sending books to Liberia, Rwanda, Ghana and The Gambia.

Inspiring Readers, Book Havens and more

In March of this year our flagship Inspiring Readers programme won the prestigious 2017 London Book Fair International Excellence Award in the category of Educational Initiatives. It was a fantastic boost for the programme which aims to bring books into the classrooms of 250,000 African primary school pupils by 2020.


Moi Primary readers
Pupils enjoy reading in class at Inspiring Readers school Moi Primary in Kenya


In 2017, we continued to expand the programme and today almost 89,000 pupils in Kenya, Cameroon and Malawi have books in their classrooms and trained teachers to help them discover how reading supports their learning.

Highlights of the year for me also included:


  • Helping reading and learning to flourish in Nairobi’s Mathare slum through our Book Havens project


Young reader Jason shows us his favourite place to read in his new Book Haven


  • Giving secondary school pupils in Zambia new resources to study and succeed in their exams by creating Study Hubs


Secondary school pupils using their study hub in Zambia
Secondary school pupils using books in their Study Hub at Choma Library



The people we reached

When I look back on 2017, more than anything I will remember the people who told us how the books we send are helping them to change their own lives.

I was particularly inspired by the words of 17 year old Lydia in Uganda who reminds us how determined people around the world are to read:

My dad always says ‘You shouldn’t go there, collecting books from there. Those books don’t help you.’ He doesn’t know how they help me. But my mum knows. She helps me go out to the library and get the books. I have already read all the fiction in the library – there are not enough now! We need more so we can keep learning. For me, I am going to be a writer, so I must keep reading!

[read more]

Lydia is just one of the estimated 24 million people who read the books we provide in any one year. We could not reach a single one of those readers without the new books that are so generously donated by publishers, the funds we receive from individuals, trusts and companies and the hard work of our volunteers. We would like to extend a very warm thank you to all of our supporters for all that you do.

Looking forward to 2018

In 2017 we sent over 930,000 books to a wide range of new and established partners.

In 2018 we are aiming to send up to 1.2 million books and we are expanding our warehouse operations in Camberwell to help us do just that.


Loading a shipment
Loading a shipment at our warehouse in London


We will also continue to implement our Inspiring Readers, Book Havens and Study Hub projects and we are currently exploring the next steps for our work providing e-books alongside print books for children.

We are very much looking forward to a year of new partnerships and new opportunities to reach those who need books most and we hope that you will join us as we continue to work toward a world where everyone has access to books that will enrich, improve and change their lives.



November Book of the Month

November’s Book of the Month is:


Yeni and the Children for Peace book
Yeny and the Children for Peace by Michelle Mulder


‘What weapon can children use to fight violence? A vote for peace!’


Yeny and the Children for Peace by Michelle Mulder is an uplifting, inspirational story based on real events in Colombia in the 1990s. Young Yeny and her family have fled the violence in their mountain village to a new life of relative safety in the city. But the threat of violence remains as armed gangs patrol the streets and members of her family are kidnapped. Yeny and her friends feel afraid and powerless until they decide to do something about their situation. They organise a peace carnival, with a march and banners and workshops for peace. As the news of the carnival spreads, children from all over the country start to get organised and hold a national vote for children’s rights in their conflict-riven country. 2.7 million children (90% of the country’s youth) turn out to vote overwhelmingly for peace, citing their right to survive as paramount and the government is forced to listen.

Mulder’s fictionalised version of the real-life Columbian Children’s Peace Movement is written in a way that will inspire children everywhere to believe their actions really can make a difference. This copy is being sent to our partner the Tamer Institute for Community Education in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, where its message of empowerment will encourage children there like Dalia and Yosef that they too can make a positive difference.


Checha Primary School reader, Kenya

Celebrating where #LiteracyThrives

To celebrate International Literacy Day, we asked you to share pictures and stories of how literacy is thriving where you are. You responded with amazing accounts and photos showcasing the difference that the ability to read is making to you and your communities.

Here’s a collection of the wonderful and inspiring things you shared with us:





As a mother, if I couldn’t read, I wouldn’t know how to handle my baby and my family.

– Karen, Mathare Youth Sports Association library user, Nairobi, Kenya


Children at Bo City Library in Sierra Leone celebrate their new Children’s Corner filled with new books thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery

Reading feeds the soul. It opens opportunities for us and I think the person who does not read misses a lot.

– Fatema, West Bank

Storyteller Gaza
In Gaza, a storyteller brings a story to life for school children as part of Tamer Institute for Community Education’s annual Reading Week celebrations

Reading has allowed me to feel limitless.

Before, travel was hard because I couldn’t read signposts myself. But now I can go everywhere!

– Phocas, 28, Rwanda


This is just a small selection of all the images and stories we received. You can take a look at them all here. We’ll also be sharing more pictures from partners on our twitter feed as they celebrate International Literacy Day at their libraries over the coming weeks.


Flying away with books in the West Bank

17 year old Dalia grew up in the city of Ramallah. Ramallah is located in the West Bank, which 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 her hope for the future of her country in education.


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 check point. 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 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 value books are even for those facing conflict and political uncertainty. 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, such as Sierra Leone.

We hope to reach out to more readers like Dalia who face enormous challenges when they seek to access books over the next four years. Find out more or be a part of our work using the links below.



June Book of the Month

Our new Book of the Month is:


One Plastic Bag book
One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon


This beautiful children’s picture book tells the inspiring true story of Isatou and her work to combat pollution and generate income for her village in the Gambia. The story is beautifully brought to life with gorgeous collage illustrations.

Isatou is troubled by the increasing piles of rubbish in her village of Njau, much of it consisting of discarded plastic bags. People, including Isatou’s grandmother, are losing their goats; a goat will eat anything and the plastic bags are constricting their insides and killing them.

Isatou notices the lovely bright colours of the bags and has an idea. She learns to crochet and gathers her friends together to wash and shred the bags, weaving the strips into pretty purses. Isatou sells the purses in the city and earns enough to buy her grandmother a new goat.




The author’s note gives a follow up to this true story: ‘Today, Njau is much cleaner, the goats are healthier and the gardens grow better . . . The women contributed some of their earnings [from selling the recycled purses] toward an empowerment centre where community members enjoy free health and literacy class . . . and the centre for the region’s first public library.’

This book has been purchased for the Tamer Institute of Community Education in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), with a grant from the Sobell Foundation, given specifically for book purchase. Books we send are often used in discussion groups in municipal libraries in OPT which provide children with the chance to explore a range of issues, including caring for the environment and endangered animals.


Animals in Danger presentation at Battir Library
Children at Battir Library, West Bank, give a presentation using a book we have sent

We hope this book will lead to some interesting discussions and provide inspiration for the children’s environmental projects at the library and in school. We also hope they will enjoy learning more about life in the Gambia and Gambian words using the glossary at the end.


Children participate in a reading activity in Alrowwad's library in Aida Camp

MEDIA RELEASE: Friends of Alrowwad UK teams up with Book Aid International to support refugee camp libraries


To mark Refugee Week, UK Friends of Aida Refugee Camp’s Alrowwad Centre in West Bank stamped hundreds of books at Book Aid International’s warehouse to go on the charity’s forthcoming shipment to the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).

Book Aid International has been sending books to OPT since 1988 and in 2016 the charity sent 15,000 books to public libraries, libraries in refugee camps, schools and universities there. Of these, hundreds of picture books and reading books for children and young people supported libraries in four refugee camps in West Bank, including Aida Camp.

Aida Refugee Camp was established in 1950 to house people who were displaced after Israel declared independence in 1948. The camp is severely overcrowded: it houses over 5,500 refugees in an area less than one third of a square mile. Its proximity to the separation wall means the camp’s residents experience regular clashes with the Israeli Security Forces. These clashes are particularly upsetting for the camp’s children.

Alrowwad Centre offers children in Aida Camp one of few safe places to go outside their homes. In addition to a library stocked with Book Aid International books and offering a busy programme of activities, the centre also runs drama, dance and film workshops to promote belonging, creativity and self-expression. Together, the library and these activities help camp residents deal with the challenges of camp life.

Book Aid International Chief Executive Alison Tweed said “This Refugee Week we are proud to support displaced people around the world. Displaced people, wherever they may find themselves, need access to books so that they can continue their education and keep reading. We were very pleased to welcome Friends of Alrowwad UK to our warehouse yesterday. We have seen first-hand the excellent work Alrowwad does and how their team uses the books we send to support the education of children in the camp and make books available to all.”

Melissa Scott of Friends of Alrowwad UK said “It has been a pleasure to stamp books that are destined for Alrowwad and other libraries in Palestine. The bright, vibrant books will be loved by the children who are so keen to further their education which fits the ethos of Alrowwad Centre. The centre provides a safe haven for children in Aida Camp in which to learn, grow and improve their life chances and the library is a big part of that.”

In addition to supporting refugees in OPT, Book Aid International also supports libraries in two of the world’s largest refugee camps, Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya and provides books to Souda Camp in Chios, Greece. The charity is seeking to expand its work providing books to displaced people, people living in fragile states and conflict-affected communities over the next three years and hopes to send around 25,000 books to OPT in 2017.




For further information and comment please contact Jenny Hayes, Communications Executive at Book Aid International.

e: jenny.hayes@bookaid.org

t: 020 7326 5801

About Book Aid International

Book Aid International is the UK’s leading international book donation and library development charity. Every year, the charity ships around one million books to thousands of libraries in communities where people have very few opportunities to access books.

Book Aid International works with an extensive network of libraries, schools, hospitals, NGOs and other partners to ensure that the books it sends reach those who are most in need. In addition, it also run library development projects which build the capacity of librarians to support readers and communities.

The charity only sends books at the request of its library partners. These books are carefully selected by our UK team led by professional librarians to ensure that they the needs of local communities.

All of the books sent by Book Aid International are donated by the UK book trade so they are all new.

Visit www.bookaid.org for more information or join the conversation on twitter: @book_aid


About Alrowwad Centre for Culture and Arts

Alrowwad is a not-for profit NGO which provides artistic, cultural and theatre training for children in Aida Camp, Bethlehem. Alrowwad works in the spirit of social entrepreneurship to deepen the notion of belonging, volunteering, creativity and self-expression for children, youth and women, regardless of origin or religion. Arowwad also provides vocational training for job creation and building peace within individuals to be able to build it among Palestinians and the world.

Find out more here http://www.alrowwad.org/en/ or find Friends of Alrowwad UK on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/FriendsofAlrowwadUK/