Following the upheaval of the Arab Spring in early 2011, a new frontier emerged for those seeking refuge – the Mediterranean. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people from the Middle East and North Africa have attempted the treacherous sea crossing in an attempt to find safety. While sea crossings peaked in 2015-16, thousands of people still make the journey each year. A common destination for Afghan and Syrian refugees in particular, Greece had nearly 10,000 sea arrivals in 2020 alone. Refugees in Greece primarily live in grossly overcrowded camps on the outlying Greek islands. With your help, we will partner with a local NGO to install a trilingual mini library (Arabic-Pashto-Kurdish) in a high-need camp.
We believe in the transformative power of books: not just as educational tools or something to pass the time with, but as vessels to other worlds that are full of possibility. For the 34 million children currently uprooted from their homes, books can act as a critical lifeline during times of psychological stress. Unfortunately, many displaced children don’t have libraries, classroom bookshelves, or personal collections to tap into - instead, they live in book deserts with limited humanitarian investment into their education. We want to change that.
Through book distributions, the rehabilitation of school libraries in refugee communities, and even the installation of our own take on Little Free Libraries, Millie’s Bookshelf is working to mitigate book deserts around the world - one book at a time. And if you’re wondering who Millie is, she’s a nod to the fearless, curious bookworm of our childhood - Matilda! Thirty years after Roald Dahl brought Matilda to life, she continues to motivate millions of children worldwide to dream big, fight for what’s right, and never lose their sense of wonder.
The areas of Iraq that fell under ISIS occupation from 2014-2017 experienced horrific conflict, significant displacement, and for the Yazidi community - a full-scale genocide. While many displaced Yazidis long to return home to Sinjar, targeted educational investments are required to facilitate a dignified return. The trilingual (Arabic-Kurdish-English) Hostler Library at Al Hateen High School will be a sanctuary for children looking to learn and to heal. It will also be the first-ever school library in this disputed territory of Iraq! Thanks to the generous support of American Eagle Outfitters lifestyle brand Aerie and local partner Nadia’s Initiative, the Hostler Library is currently under renovation and will open in 2021.