Library Inspires Hope and Learning for Refugees

Books can be a source of hope, adventure, and imagination. For Shrouq, a 16-year-old from Morocco, and her family, access to books “gave their lives new meaning.”

During the first few months living in a displacement camp in northeast Syria, Shrouq recounted feeling bored and isolated. One day, while on her way to the market, Blumont’s protection team told her about the camp’s newly constructed library.

Shrouq, 16, discovered her passion for reading and drawing by coming to the library.

The library quickly became a safe haven for Shrouq. She made friends not only with her neighbors, but also with the books. One book stood out from the rest. “My favorite book is called Ecstasy because it contained stories that expressed deep feelings inside me that I could not explain,” said Shrouq. The book inspired hope and, unexpectedly, helped her discover a new talent.

“It also inspired me to draw,” Shrouq added. “I saw a beautiful picture in the book, so I drew it. Now, drawing bring me happiness.”

Noticing her artistic abilities, our team held an exhibition to display her artwork. At the exhibition, Shrouq presented her drawings and shared her life story with the participants, encouraging eight other women to start visiting the library.

Blumont’s protection team helped Shrouq hold an exhibition of her drawings at the library.

“When I come to the library, I forget that I am living in a camp,” Shrouq shared. “Reading and drawing improve my well-being and, since I have started attending, my relationship with my family has improved.”

One of the women she invited to the library was her older sister, Ritaj. Shrouq hoped they could enjoy time together as family without the stressors of the outside world. Now, Ritaj also finds comfort inside the library’s walls.

“The camp is a closed place, but the library has a vast world in it,” said Ritaj. “I read other people’s stories and feel that there is always hope for the future. The books listen and speak to me. They are a friend I can trust.”

Ritaj, middle, and Shrouq, right, come to the library together to read and enjoy each other’s company.

The library helps Ritaj cope with her feelings and provides her with a safe space to bond with her four-year-old son. During the mother-child sessions, Ritaj is teaching her son to appreciate books and even helping him learn to read.

Shrouq and Ritaj are both grateful for the library and all it offers.

“Since we started going to the library, our way of thinking has changed,” they shared. “We became aware of the importance of family, and now we appreciate life with each other, even if we are in a camp. Family is family, everywhere.”

“I cannot imagine returning to a life without a library. It is my haven,” Ritaj added.