BBC Interview on IBBY, Children in Crisis…1st

Monday 10 February 2014

BBC Interview on IBBY, Children in Crisis…

These are extracts from two hours ‘BBC Extra’ interview, conducted in London November 23rd 2012 with Jehan Helou President of PBBY and Nabeela Hassan PBBY Gaza coordinator, direct from Gaza.

Jehan had to answer other questions related to social, cultural and political issues.

Abdel Samad Bin Joudeh: Since we are talking about relief, Mandela’s wife has a famous saying “Reading is the fourth pillar for relief”. Do you think that reading is important to the children of Gaza especially in these difficult circumstances?

Jehan: Of course there is no doubt about that Education and Reading are important and basic for the children. I also respect the saying of Garcia Michael ‘that the fourth pillar of relief should be education and books’. Providing food, shelter, and medication is not enough, we have to give children hope and the future not only the present!
Abdel Samad: Do you think books can provide hope to children whose homes were destroyed by the war?

Jehan: We Palestinians consider education, reading books as best weapon for our steadfastness, resistance and struggle for freedom, and we even give it the first priority. Generally speaking, the child wants to forget his brutal reality for few moments; books attract his attention to different worlds (…)

Abdel Samad: PBBY established two libraries in Gaza one in al- Shawka area near the crossing borders of Rafah, the other in Beit Hanoun. These two libraries offer important services to children who live in the borderline area which is constantly bombarded, shelled and invaded by the Israeli army.

We have on the line with us now direct from Gaza, Ms Nabeela Yousef Hassan who volunteers to supervise the work in these libraries, and who is also a coordinator at Tamer Institute for Community Education.

Welcome. (…)

Nabeela: Yes the shelling targeted several libraries amongst them was PBBY al-‘Ata Library in Beit Hanoun, which lies on the borderline area at Eritz crossing path, of it was a contact and fire line for children. I mean most of the libraries were either destroyed or burnt.

Abdel Samad: Yes, and these are not the only libraries in the Gaza Strip for Children what makes them different?

Nabeela: In Gaza Strip there is a large number of libraries distributed geographically from Gaza to Rafah, but what distinguish these libraries is that they both lie on the borderline and in marginalized areas. Very few institutions offer their services in these areas and because they are situated in agricultural areas, therefore, there is urgent need for people living there to learn and be educated; children, parents and even the elderly.

Abdel Samad: Do you think children in those areas love reading more than other children living in different areas?

Nabeela (…) Children living in marginalized areas read more than children in other areas, because, libraries are the only outlet for them. For example in al “Shawka” area there was no library, until PBBY established it. The children had no place to do any activity except to play in the streets and this was very dangerous because it is a border line area in contact with the Occupation.

Many children were killed when mines exploded and shattered them. When PBBY established the library everybody was relieved especially the parents, they were no more worried about their children playing outdoors. The children participate in several activities in the library; they read, play, meet and compete. (…)

Abdel Samad: (…) We have one question to you from Rweida ‘Ali: What is the difference which we do not know between the Palestinian children and the children living in a more free and independent countries.’

Jehan Helou: The main difference is that the children of Palestine are deprived from most of their basic rights that are internationally recognized. Let’s remember that Gaza in Particular, is a place for Palestinian refugees who were uprooted from their homeland in 1948. People there live in a very difficult social and economic situation since then, and they still believe in the Right of Return.

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