With your support, Ibn Rushd Library continues to provide valuable services to the children of Al Aqaba Village, making a positive difference in their lives. It has become a happy space for children, a place to get away from their challenging environment and the ensuing uncertainty and insecurity of life in a village that is greatly impacted by the Israeli military occupation.
Libraries are essential for the growth and development of children. Introduction to reading early on in their lives has many benefits for children. It cultivates a lifelong love for reading and helps with their ability to focus and concentrate. In a recent reading activity, organized in collaboration with the Red Crescent, the children discussed the stories they were reading. This activity contributed positively to their communication and social skills. While older children can read books on their own, younger children need help with reading. That’s why Shafeqa holds storytelling sessions for younger children.
Reading also stimulates imagination and creativity. Shafeqa understands that the developing brain of a child benefits from this exercise. Therefore, she asked the children to use their imagination to sketch their favorite character from the book they have been reading. Children indulged in this freehand drawing activity and made imaginary characters.
Ibn Rushd Library also provides a safe space for the community to come together. To develop a sense of community, Shafeqa invited children and their mothers to participate in a session in which they were asked to draw and paint their homes. This participatory session helped children and mothers to express how they see their homes and what they like or dislike. This simple activity helped children and mothers to express themselves freely and helped them bond.
Talented librarian Sahfeqa continues to work on developing her skills. She actively participates in library training sessions for local librarians. In the pictures below, you can see her participating in a session on adolescents and how to help them get through this phase. She also participated in a training held by the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) on providing psychological support to the children in Area C of the West Bank. Shafeqa is now holding weekly meetings with the children and helping them talk about their challenges.
Shafeqa has many plans for the future of the library. She believes that the library can benefit from a technological upgrade with the addition of computers and visual tools such as projectors that can help her organize community services.
Your support for Ibn Rushd Library is greatly appreciated. Thank you for your gift that supports the children of Al Aqaba and their love of reading!
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:
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:
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.
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:
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.
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
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.
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!
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!
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