A First in Arabic Children's Book Publishing
World Refugee Day is Wednesday, 20 June, 2018
Building Bridges of Peace for Refugee Children in Jordan
Through a year-long partnership with Jordanian authors, illustrators and publishers, Room to Read creates a new collection of twenty original children’s books in Arabic - a first of its kind, telling stories of home, of fitting in, and of friendship in the Middle East.
By the Numbers:
Room to Read's Jordan Project
Twenty - new original titles produced
44 - authors and illustrators involved in the project
Three - Jordanian publishing houses
600,000 - books distributed to refugee communities and every school in Jordan.
Jordan’s population has ballooned as people seek refuge from nearby conflict. The Ministry of Education is responding to an education crisis, working to educate more than half of a million more students than it is equipped for. At the launch event for our collection of Arabic children's books in Amman, then Minister of Education and current Prime Minister, His Excellency Dr. Omar Al Razzaz described a single third grade classroom in the heart of Amman being filled with students from seven countries, including Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, Palestine and Jordan.
An oasis amidst the shifting sands of conflict
Neighboring Syria, Iraq, the West Bank, and Saudi Arabia, Jordan sits at the crossroads of a region that has experienced generations of conflict, yet Jordan itself has become, for many, a refuge. Despite having one of the smallest economies in the Middle East, Jordan has opened its doors to millions uprooted by conflict and civil unrest.
The first wave of mass immigration to Jordan begins as thousands of Palestinians seek refuge following the Israeli declaration of independence and ensuing Arab-Israeli War.
The wave of immigration continues as Jordan becomes home to Lebanese fleeing a decades-long civil war, and then to Iraqis amidst the 1991 Gulf War and following destabilization in Iraq.
An estimated 660,000-plus Syrians have sought refuge in Jordan, fleeing a devastating civil war. An estimated 220,000 are school-aged children.
Just One Letter Separates Love and War
In Arabic, the words for Love حب and War حرب are separated by just one letter ( ر the r). In "A Plane that Brings Love," created as part of this collection by Room to Read partner Jabal Amman Publishers, author Wafa T. Qusous and illustrator Kamil Adil tell the story of Samer, a young hero who witnesses war in his country and stitches together a plan for love from war to change the future.
Helping Refugee Kids Just be Kids
“With these books, I hope that they can find some sort of relief.”
Co-founder, Majdalawi Masterpieces
In times of crisis, formal education often suffers and a second silent crisis begins as a generation of young people lose access to the benefits of high-quality learning environments.
When Room to Read began building our Jordan project plan, how to address the needs of refugee children was at the forefront of our thinking. During the course of the project, we invited college-age Syrian refugee students to speak to our creators about their experience, to help us understand how we could help children in this crisis.
Several books from this collection were designed specifically to address the needs of refugee children. Others were pure flights of fancy. Each served an important purpose. A common sentiment among the publishers and creators involved was a hope that these books help the children living in this crisis feel they can see themselves on the page, feel that they are not alone, and also, to be able to laugh, play and have fun with the characters that live in these pages.
Book Distribution at Al Zaatari Refugee Camp
Majdalawi Masterpieces, one of Room to Read's publishing partners in Jordan, helped distribute sets of the twenty-book collection at Al Zaatari Refugee Camp a short drive from the capital, Amman.
Flora Majdalawi, co-founder of Majdalawi Masterpieces said of the project, "Right now in Jordan, there are so many displaced children. With these books, I hope that they can find some sort of relief, and that they can provide some sort of escapist experience that will let them forget, even for a few moments about the harsh reality. I'm hoping also that these books can establish a strong bond between these children and the written word, so that they can build a positive relationship with a book with the rest of their lives."
Majdalawi Masterpieces Distributes the Collection at Al Zaatari Camp
With the help of The Road magazine volunteers, Dr. Farouk Majdalawi, Room to Read's distributor in Jordan distributed 24,000 books at Al Zaatari Refugee Camp, about an hour's drive northwest of the capital, Amman and six miles from the Syrian border. Dr. Farouk and his wife Hiyam, a contributing author in the project, also held storytelling sessions for the children there.
Let's Keep Doing Good Things Together
Our work is not done. Millions of children still lack the great books, teachers and support they need. Just US$25 puts mother tongue books in the hands of 25 children in need.Donate Today