Ibn Rushd Library

by Rebuilding Alliance
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Ibn Rushd Library
Al Aqaba children participating in an exhibition
Al Aqaba children participating in an exhibition

The Ibn Rushd Library has been central to the story of Al Aqaba Village since its establishment, and it has been a source of learning and joy to the village. Thousands of children from the village and neighboring areas have benefited from the library. Last October, Shafeqa joined as the new librarian, once again bringing the library to life. Shafeqa, however, sees things differently. She believes that the children bring the library to life and that, “Children are the spirit of the village, when they go to the library, the village becomes alive.” 

Unfortunately, things changed earlier this year, as funding dried up. In June, the library was forced to close down, leaving children without a place to go, and leaving Shafeqa without a job. The Al Aqaba Women Association, which runs the library, sought support and funding from other organizations but was not successful.

Despite the lack of funding, Shafeqa has still been working with the children on a voluntary basis, and opening up the library when she can. She still managed to get the children enrolled in an exhibition in Tubas in June, organized by the Tamer Institute and the Ministry of Culture. In this exhibition, children presented the brilliant artwork they produced under the supervision of Shafeqa.

When it was open, the  library had 30-40 children that visited regularly. Children from the Al Haq Kindergarten and the local school also visited the library regularly. These children miss going to the library. Here’s what they are saying:

  • “As girls, we often don’t go out of our homes. The library was the only place we could come and do different activities.” – Lara, 13 years old
  • “We are all so sad but I’m especially sad because I used to go to the library every day. I would borrow books when I was bored and could read. After the library closed, we don’t read books anymore.” – Bana, 13 years old.
  • “I used to have a good time at the library. I would read books or do activities with Miss. Shafeqa. Because the library is closed, I no longer read stories or do activities.” – Ritaj, 8 years old
  • “I loved going to the library and reading books there. I could summarize them. There was a reading week and I took part in it.” – Toleen, 12 years old
  • “I hope the library will open again.” Noor, 13 years old 
  • “Currently, the library is closed and I have nothing to do except using my mobile.” – Yousef, 12 years old.
  • “I love the library. I hope it will reopen so that we can enjoy it.” May, 13 years old. 

Children are eagerly waiting for the library to re-open. Due to the tense situation in the village, with two houses facing demolition orders against them, the library can be an outlet for children to spend their time.

Thank you for supporting Ibn Rushd Library in the past. Shafeqa and the children of Al Aqaba really need your help to get the library reopened. Funds raised will go to:

  • Pay the librarian’s salary,
  • Replace old furniture such as tables and chairs
  • Buy books for the library especially novels which are in demand by children
  • Buy computers
  • Buy a projector.

Please give generously to get the library reopened. The children in Al Aqaba would love to start visiting again, as you saw by their statements. Children everywhere deserve to have a library, and in Al Aqaba it is especially important as a place for children to gather and learn.Thank you for all that you do.

Children showcasing their work in the exhibition
Children showcasing their work in the exhibition
Children having a good time at the exhibition
Children having a good time at the exhibition
I love the library so much, hope it'll open -- May
I love the library so much, hope it'll open -- May
I loved reading books in the library -- Toleen
I loved reading books in the library -- Toleen
We did activities in the library -- Lara
We did activities in the library -- Lara
I hope the library will open again. -- Noor
I hope the library will open again. -- Noor
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Library made all colorful
Library made all colorful

Dear friends,

It gives me great pleasure to inform you that the Ibn Rushd Library is thriving. With your support, children from the village and neighboring Tayasir and Tubas are benefiting. 

The new librarian, Shafeqa, joined in October 2021. Shafeqa, who lives in Al Aqaba, graduated from Al Najah University with a degree in interior design. She has always loved literature, is a talented videographer and muralist, speaks English, and comes up with new and innovative ways to make learning fun:  

  • She decorated the library with colorful paintings and mobiles. Her efforts seem to be paying off as the children visit the library regularly. Kindergarten and the school children visit on designated days during school hours. 

  • Shafeqa holds after-school reading sessions for the children. Kindergarteners listen to stories while older children read to themselves.

  • She carries out special activities around these stories. Here's a celebration of Mother's Day

  • Amnah Al Kelani, a noted children’s author, visited the library for a storytelling session along with a representative of the Ministry of Culture. 

  • Shafeqa believes that art is intertwined with learning, especially for children. “I realized that I can incorporate art into reading activities. Simple activities that we do with children can help improve their psychological state of mind.” 

  • Shafeqa regularly participates in librarian training organized by the Tamer Foundation. Patricia Toma, a German writer and illustrator of children's stories taught her about Shadow Theater, a favorite activity. The children come up with their own story for the play and then cut-out cardboard and add colored sheets to make their animal characters. A sheet backlit by the window in the library allows them to create their shadow performance!

  • Seven children joined Shafeqa in a National Reading Week event organized by Tamer Foundation for the children in Al Aqaba, Harsh Al-Suwait, and Jenin interacting with one another and learning new things. 

  • The library has become a venue for awareness sessions and training for the community and for fellow librarians in the surrounding area.

  • Facebook page showcases the children's work.

  • Shafeqa and the community have plans to upgrade the library and would like to add more novels and ebooks to the library.

  • The library is becoming a community space for young girls and boys, especially girls. Though this is changing, most girls get married at a very young age or don’t pursue higher studies beyond 12th grade. Since the library is located in the middle of the village, it is an ideal location for community activities and continuing education.

Ibn Rushd library is a sanctuary for children of the village. Though the village is within Firing Zone 900, and the Israeli Army ostensibly ended live-fire training in 2002 through an agreement with the village, about every three months or so soldiers still conduct training within the village. In January, after 12 years without any demolitions, one new home inside the village was demolished. A High Court ruling against that one house put all the other homes at risk of demolition, especially the unfinished ones. This takes a toll on the children.  Shafeqa asked the children to make Pinwheels for Peace. Through their drawings and writings, children shared their love for safe homes and peace. 

We appreciate your support in the past and look forward to working with you as we implement library plans for the future and continue to make learning fun for Al Aqaba children.

Yours truly,

Maria 

Book reading session in progress
Book reading session in progress
Kids having fun while preparing for Shadow Theater
Kids having fun while preparing for Shadow Theater
A character of the Shadow Theater
A character of the Shadow Theater
Proudly presenting Shadow Theater
Proudly presenting Shadow Theater
National Reading Week
National Reading Week
A Mother's Day activity
A Mother's Day activity
Librarians participating in a training session
Librarians participating in a training session

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Founder of Morocco Library Program Barb and Donna
Founder of Morocco Library Program Barb and Donna

Hi All,
Our colleague Ida wrote this wonderful report for us in April, but then resigned as RA's Country Representative when she faced constraints with her visa.  I am honored to bring it forward to you now.  Sincerely, Donna B-W, Executive Director of Rebuilding Alliance

____________________________________
April 2018

Dear Friend,

I visited the Ibn Rush'd Library for the first time two weeks ago and the atmosphere and the librarian made a huge impression on me.

First, let me take a moment to introduce myself.   I've recently joined Rebuilding Alliance as the new Country Representative, tasked with moving Rebuilding Alliance's projects forward and representing RA at the UN Protection Cluster, Shelter Cluster, and soon the Educational Cluster meetings.  I am originally from Denmark and I speak Arabic. I have lived in Susiya in the South Hebron Hills to provide a protective presence, and I look forward to keeping you in touch with the remarkable projects underway at RA.

This little pearl of a library gives the children of al Aqaba the opportunity to find a space to focus and concentrate quietly, and it also gives room for cheerfulness and joy when Shoroq, the librarian, entertains the children with fairy tales and children's stories.

The committed and inspiring librarian, Shoroq, is a young woman from the nearby city Tubaas. She is deeply dedicated to books and the importance of introducing litterature to children. As she puts it:

"We are up against time consumers — computer games and smartphones — but I truly believe that books and literature can teach children about life as nothing else."

Shoroq hopes to expand Al Aqaba's Ibn Rush'd Library include a mobile library that will reach marginalised villages throughout the Tubaas governorate, especially in rural areas where children drop out of school in early ages to herd sheep or work as cheap labor. Shoroq says:

"A mobile library would play a vital role to support children in continuing their schooling and see the beauty in books and knowledge."

I joined Shoroq in her field visits as she develops her proposal and we had two great meetings with the Tamer institute for Community Education, a potential partner.  Tamer is a non-profit organization based in Ramallah that promotes reading among children and young people in the West Bank and Gaza and they pioneered the mobile library concept quite successfully in the greater Nablus area. 

We will keep you updated as the project proposal takes shape.  Meanwhile, I look forward to your comments and questions.  By the way, if you or someone you know would like to visit Al Aqaba to volunteer at the Ibn Rush'd Library, Al Aqaba welcomes you!  The guesthouse is ready.

Sincerely,

Ida

P.S.  I've included a short link to a video interview with Shoroq that Donna did on the day she brought the donation of 86 books.  You'll see a photo below of Barb Makraz, founder of the Morrocco Library Project, who made that donation possible with the help of an anonymous donor.  Barb helped Donna pack the books into suitcases to bring them here.  Thanks again!

Wonderful Librarian Shoroq and a visitor
Wonderful Librarian Shoroq and a visitor
The mesmerizing atmosphere of Ibn Rush'd Library
The mesmerizing atmosphere of Ibn Rush'd Library
Read!
Read!
New English books donated by the Moroccan Lib Prj.
New English books donated by the Moroccan Lib Prj.
Happy librarian & Major Haj Sami when books arrive
Happy librarian & Major Haj Sami when books arrive

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With all the families visiting the park in Al Aqaba, and all the delegations visiting Mayor Haj Sami Sadeq, it is time to develop hospitality training for some of the young people who want jobs.    St. Andrew's Guesthouse in Ramallah, part of the Espicopal Technical and Vocational Training Center in Ramallah, visited Al Aqaba and put together this preliminary proposal for training and improvements of the Al Aqaba Guesthouse.

Mayor Haj Sami is ready to go ahead, and we have some questions, including budget discussion, and scheduling, to be able to move forward in the month ahead.  When I think of our other projects, we often seek-out other vendors to provide a competing quote.  Perhaps we should do so for this project as well. 

Meanwhile, the Ibn Rush'd Library is inviting the director of the Children's Library and Technology Center in Hebron to visit to help plan next steps for Library programs including the Ibn Rush'd Entrepreneurship Program for Area C Youth.  We would like to host a visiting speakers series.  More on this soon!

Sincerely,

Donna


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The Ibn Rush'd Librarian, Kefah, helped translate!
The Ibn Rush'd Librarian, Kefah, helped translate!

July 1, 2015

Dear friend of the Ibn Rush'd Youth Entrepreneurship Program,

So much has happened in the last six months!  We are excited to share with you three outstanding developments from the Ibn Rush'd Entreprenership Program: 

(1) Conducting Surveys: Market Research for the Al Aqaba Rural Women's Restaurant 

The Middle East Investment Initiative (MEII), based in Ramallah, recently completed a market analysis report for our proposed Al Aqaba Rural Women's Center Restaurant - and they couldn't have done it without the Youth Entrepreneurship Club! Together, they developed a survey to collect information about the potential patrons of the Al Aqaba Restaurant, and the youth went out to survey the surounding areas. They surveyed 200 people: 100 in Tubas, 50 in Tayaseer and 50 in Al Aqaba. There was a fair distribution of the survey to different genders, ages, and income categories.

Results:

  • 31% of respondents were willing to visit the restaurant during vacation times (Eid) and special occasions
  • 61% said they have no restaurant near their area
  • 85% were willing to visit Al Aqaba restaurant
  • 13% would not visit the restaurant for financial reasons
  • The suitable price for a meal is 40 NIS (20 NIS for a sandwich with French fries)
  • Location: Al Aqaba village, Tayaseer village, the town of Tubas, and the villages of Ein al Beida, Barala, Kardala, and surrounding area
  • Income level: From data gathered in primary research, they found that 84% of respondents have a family household income less than 3500 NIS monthly, and 55% have a family household income of less than 2000 NIS montly.

This survey gave the youth hands-on experience with a professional business consultant to determine the viability of future projects. They did a phenomenal job!

(2) How to write a business plan: Frozen Vegetables

On our last visit to Palestine, Donna helped run a workshop on business plan development with Al Aqaba's lovely librarian, Kefah, members of the Ibn Rush'd Youth Entreprenership Program, and the business managers of Al Aqaba.

Conversation has been flowing about the possibility of a frozen vegetable project for the youth. With an abundance of vegetables in Al Aqaba during the spring and summer, the youth see great opportunity in freezing and packaging vegetables for distribution in the surrounding areas and throughout Palestine. This is compounded by the fact that most of the frozen vegetables available for purchase are currently being imported from Israel - the possibility of buying local to support the Palesitnian economy resonates deeply with many. With Al Aqaba's delicious goat's milk cheese now being imported as far as South America, this small village is really dreaming big.

On April 4, Donna (with the help of Kefah and Haj Sami translating,) led a seminar on how to write a business plan. To make sure that your donation goes as far as possible, Rebuildling Alliance is committed to helping foster Entrepreneurial skills in these youth that they can use for the rest of their lives.

We asked questions like:

1.) What is the problem/opportunity? Why frozen vegetables?

2.) Market Analysis: Who will buy this product?  

3.) Who is on the team? What are their strenghts?

4.) How much will this cost? 

"Your business plan is strong because of the people....It's almost the most important part. People don't care about ideas, they care about you." - Donna Baranski-Walker, Executive Director, Rebuildling Alliance

You can see a video clip of the workshop by clicking here: 

They estimate the start-up costs for machinery will be about $15,000.   They may be able to share space with the goat cheese factory and also share the refrigerated truck.   We look forward to receiving their business plan soon to learn more about the details of this exciting project and provide seed funding.    

Vocational Training for the Al Aqaba Guest House: 

Al Aqaba is planning to expand their small guest house to accomodate the large international delegations visiting each week.  This can provide an important opportunity for hospitality jobs and the Al Aqaba Youth Entrepreneurship group has asked for a proposal about such training. 

Rebuildling Alliance stays in a variety of places across the West Bank when we visit. One of our favorites is the Saint Andrews Guest House in Ramallah, a recently remodeled space in al Tireh with the mission of offering affordable accomodations while training students currently enrolled in the Hotel School ETVTC training programme. The leaders of the Al Aqaba Youth Entrepreneurship program joined Mayor Haj Sami Sadeq to explore training with the head of the ETVTC Hotel School program, Mr. Giovanni Anbar.  The ETVTC team sent us a proposal and will be visiting Al Aqaba after the Eid to develop next steps.

Stay tuned for more exciting updates about the Ibn Rush'd Entrepreneurship Program, and thank you for your support!

Warm wishes,

Kelly Leilani Main

Mayor Haj Sami & accountant discuss business plan
Mayor Haj Sami & accountant discuss business plan
The whole group!
The whole group!
Momen, middle, studied marketing in school!
Momen, middle, studied marketing in school!
Everyone learned new vocabulary in English &Arabic
Everyone learned new vocabulary in English &Arabic
Discussing the possibility of Hospitality Training
Discussing the possibility of Hospitality Training
Mayor Haj Sami and Momen, youth entrepr. co-leader
Mayor Haj Sami and Momen, youth entrepr. co-leader
Donna from Rebuilding Alliance & Mayor Haj Sami
Donna from Rebuilding Alliance & Mayor Haj Sami

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Rebuilding Alliance

Location: Redwood City, CA - USA
Website:
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Twitter: @RebuildAll
Project Leader:
Donna Baranski-walker
Executive Director
Rebuilding Alliance, CA United States
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