Already 6 months have passed since the year started. Time to take stock of the progress. We have changed the location of our mobile library, it is now located in an area with better visibility and more traffic. Also, we have installed a library in a container in the education hub (the school area in the camp) which includes lots of different activities for children. Our container is filled with new board games, suitable for children and teenagers, and for some months, we organize activity times for the refugee children, which are crafts, reading, film viewing sessions, and various games. These moments have been a real success. Today 15 children attended! Starfish has observed a clear increase in books being borrowed. Nearly 250 books have been lent out in 6 months. 1/3 in Farsi (language spoken in Afghanistan and Iran), 1/3 in English, and almost a quarter in Somali. Nearly 80% are adult books and about 20% are children’s books, most of them for under 12 years old. The most popular books are fiction and language learning books (mainly English, German and French). With over 7000 books in more than 20 languages, they are always available in our library for potential requests. One of our innovations is our board game stations inside the camp at strategic points of life which are also a great success. People of all ages can come and play carrom, Uno, cards, ludo and so on. Board game evenings, open to all, are also held every Thursday in our OpenSpace community hub in downtown Mytilene. This concept is very successful and attracts more and more people to various games. We are satisfied to observe a mix between refugees and local people, allowing us to create friendly time, integration, cultural sharing, and socializing. With your involvement, the library project both in OpenSpace and in the camp continues to grow. These projects, with the daily efforts of our team, could not be as effective without your contribution.
We are over excited to share with you out new development, we finally set up and opened our library container. On Wednesday, we held an opening event to introduce and celebrate this new space to all the residents and people working in the camp. Last Thursday, we also held an event for the kids in our new library with games, books and snacks. Little to say that those events were a great success! Our library is in the education and school area, and offers over 1,000 books in more than 10 languages and lots of different games to the camp residents. We were very happy for the warm welcome and for the support from everyone! We will be open every week day: Monday to Friday for littlies and adults.
Starfish has also started to organise in our library every morning different activities for the children: such as reading, drawing, beading workshops and film sessions.
In addition we moved the popup mobile library to a more high-traffic area in the camp, which proved to be was a great success as we doubled the number of books borrowed this month.
In our office ‘OpenSpace’ Starfish Foundation has started an animated board games nights open to all: refugees, volunteers and locals. Once a week for two hours. So far more than twenty people have come together to play and have fun. This is an opportunity for everyone to meet and erase cultural and linguistic barriers around simple games: Uno, cards, chess, dominoes, etc.
A big thank you to #Ravensburger who kindly donated board games. They sent us many board games for kids and adults. Those will be very useful during our games night every Thursday evening from 5:30PM to 7.30PM.
We have discovered a Persian Bookstore in Germany called Forough Book. Now we can order more books in Farsi (language spoken mainly in Afghanistan and Iran) and they will give us some donations. A big thank you also to the NGOs Eudemonia and Eurorelief who have recently given us many books and thus participate to the continuity of our activities on the field. We have also started exchanging books with the camp schools to help with language learning for the children and adults attending classes in the camps.
Starfish has a new volunteer in the OpenSpace library who was once a refugee. He speaks many languages including Farsi, which will greatly facilitate the reception and processing of Farsi books. He will also help organize a more conducive space for reading and relaxation.
Finally, the last 2 months have been very positive. More than a hundred books have been lent out. A large majority of them are books for adults in Farsi, English and Arabic and many of them are also German and English learning books as well as fiction books.
We are still actively looking for Somali books as the Somali population in the camp is growing and the demand is increasing.
Our Multilingual Library has continued to operate on Lesvos for refugees and locals despite the challenge presented by harsh winter weather. The last month has brought incredibly cold and rainy winter weather to Lesvos, but our project continued to open at OpenSpace in Mytilene and in Mavrovouni camp on most days. At the same time, it has been an exciting time for the project as it will soon benefit from a container inside Mavrovouni Camp whilst we have also received numerous book donations.
Our mobile library services will be housed in a container located inside the new Education Hub of the camp and will provide multiple benefits for all. It will also serve as a new permanent site for the mobile part of the project providing greater flexibility and the possibility to deliver more activities for children and adults. We will keep you updated once we begin operating from the new home.
We were also delighted to receive a number of fantastic donations of new books over the past few weeks which will help maintain stock for 2022. With thanks to Book Aid International, Refugees4Refugees, The School of Peace and to a local contact who sourced books from the French Institute in Greece. We are still in urgent need of Somali and Farsi books so if you, or anyone you know, can support. Please do get in touch at : email@example.com.
The library continues to expand and reach more people than ever! The community schools within the camp are one of the fundamental parts that ensure educational needs of refugee children, youth and adults are met. We are happy to announce that Starfish has also begun supporting Star School, another established community school, that will be using our books to teach English inside Mavrovouni camp.
This school will select 30 different books each month for students to read in class. Organisational support for the initiatives of camp residents is essential to be recognised and have the resources to improve and move forward. Supporting these kinds of camp projects is something we are very proud of!
In addition, we recently witnessed another beautiful story during the day to day running of our Library project. One week ago, a lovely resident family that were passing through our library stand inside the camp donated a selection of books and games for us. They told us that they were leaving the camp, they did not want to throw these amazing books away and wanted other refugees to benefit from them. We were really surprised and grateful for their generosity. Take a look at the photo below of two of the donated books, atlas of animals and food.
Thank you for making these stories possible! With your support we are able to have a wide variety of books that allow us to cover the different educational needs of the camp community and contribute to the learning opportunities of many individuals. Your contributions mean that we can reach more people inside the camp with books, educational materials and games.
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