It’s something so ordinary for us that we don’t even think about it: reading. Especially in the childhood it’s very important. Reading enhances our language and thought development as well as our imagination. In addition it’s a lot of fun. In Palestine most of the households or schools don’t have enough books and libraries are hard to reach. 630 barriers and the 725 km long wall restrict the mobility of the Palestinians.
“When the children cannot come to the books, the books have to come to the children“, that’s how Samira Safadi, the director of the information and library work of the Goethe Institute in Ramallah, describes the solution of this problem. The idea of the Bibliobus was developed together with Dr. Jörg Schuhmacher, director of the Goethe Institute, and the Institut Français.
The Bibliobus is a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter that was modified to a mobile library. The bus visits schools in Palestine offering German and French language courses. The aim is to give children an understanding of culture and bring them closer to books and audiovisual media. No matter if the moving library stops in Ramallah, Jerusalem, Bethlehem or Jericho, the children always enjoy it. “I really like the bus! It allows me to read German and to improve my reading. I’d love it if there was a bigger bus with more books so I could learn more languages!” mentions the 13-year-old Nayef from Beit Sahour.
About 1500 books, DVDs, CDs and magazines in German, French and Arabic can be found in the shelves. Famous classics like “Momo“ and “The Never Ending Story“ are also available. The loan is limited to one book per week so that no child has to return home empty-handed. Besides the library, there is a manifold program with reading competitions, puppet shows and picture book cinema.
Saying good-bye is hard when the library Sprinter leaves for the holidays in the Gaza Strip. The bus is commissioned by Palestinian organisations and stops at children’s hospitals, cultural centres and public parks. Last year the Bibliobus provided a welcomed change and variety for about 7500 children in their dreary everyday life. The Bibliobus is on tour since May 2011. Compared to other Palestinian projects, it has a decisive advantage: the bus is allowed to drive through all Palestinian areas due to a diplomatic license.
Photos: Shadi Assar, Regine Kiepert