Video: Encouraging reading culture in Gaza

Gaza’s 41 libraries tend to be lonely places. But there are young people working to change that.

The Glow and Thought initiative aims to “invest in education and build resilience,” according to Fida al-Sharif, a trainer with the project.

Glow and Thought established a library in one of Gaza’s secondary schools that didn’t have one previously. Books are displayed in recycled containers hung on walls decorated with murals reflecting themes from nature.

Students can sit at colorful desks or lower to the ground on seats made out of recycled tires, arranged around a painted shipping palette that serves as a table – an environment designed to be inviting.

“Honestly, many institutions just aren’t attractive,” says high school student Marah Abu Sbeih.

“Rows and shelves and chairs that make it seem like they’re only for certain kinds of people.”

Students who visit are encouraged to leave notes about the books they read to help others discover what might interest them.

Those who value reading want others to benefit from it as well.

“When I arm myself with culture I’m ready to take on the world using knowledge, to see different perspectives expansively,” says Rania Abd al-Hadi.

“We’re trying to get across the idea that reading is fundamental in a person’s life,” she added.

Video by Ruwaida Amer for The Electronic Intifada.