Minivan library brings literary relief to refugees
For tens of thousands of refugees stuck in Greece for the past two years after European states shut their borders in rapid succession, survival is no longer an issue.
Instead, boredom and creeping despair about their future are their new enemies as they wait for months, even years, for their applications to relocate elsewhere in Europe to be processed.
Now, at least two separate initiatives have emerged to help refugees fill the long hours of their day.
One of them is Echo Refugee Library — a minivan fitted with shelves carrying over 1,000 books that does a weekly round of refugee camps in the greater Athens area, plus poorer districts of the capital where many refugees live in UN-rented flats.
The goal of the initiative is to “make culture accessible to all,” says Esther Ten Zijthoff, 25, the Dutch-American coordinator of the project.
The books — in English, Greek, French, Arabic, Kurdish and Farsi — have been provided by benefactors in Greece, Belgium, Britain and Lebanon or purchased with money donated online.
Language dictionaries are also in demand, with many readers borrowing them to photocopy and keep close at hand.
In another part of the city centre, a similar initiative draws Syrian and Afghan refugees to the offices of We Need Books, a volunteer group formed last year that also gives language classes in Arabic and French.
– ‘Escape through literature’ –
We Need Books has the largest collection of Farsi books in Athens, including over 150 sent directly from Afghanistan, says co-founder Ioanna Nissiriou.
Source: Goodnews Network
Photograph: © Unsplash