BookNotes: The Sokaina Girls School Library

Mike Selby

The camp known as Deir El-Balah is currently one of the worst places on the planet to live.

Located in the Gaza Strip, it is home to 24,525 refugees under the current blockade, whose daily life only continues get worse.

Unemployment is almost universal, with most families living on relief food packages from the U.N. Basic power is unreliable, and hospitals are forced to rely on gas-powered generators. Sewage and pollution is everywhere, and 97 percent of the water supply is undrinkable.

Some think the Deir El-Balah will become unlivable in the next two years.

What schools exist there practically run 24/7 due to the massive overcrowding. As one could expect, the students there find it hard to see a future; they are literally walled off from the rest of the world. Drug use and suicide are far too common.

But there is hope. And it came last year from the students themselves. A group of teens from the Sokaina Girls School got together and built their own library. Their school, like the majority of schools all over Gaza, didn’t have one.

This was no easy task. The girls would have to venture out into the market, track down books and mingle with shopkeepers, something adolesent females just don’t do in their society. Yet they did do it, travelling in a large group of forty, accompanied with a $300 grant they received from UNICEF.

After braving the unknown market place, the schoolgirls were faced with the sad reality that $300 would only by 30 books at best. This left them no money for shelving, tables and chairs. Undaunted, they hunted through the garbage dumps to see what they could come up with. They were able to fashion tables out of wood scraps, and chairs out of old tires.

They also wrote to United Nation NGO’s for book donations. Soon, they had 500 brand new books, and the Sokaina Girls School had its first library. The Education Ministry was so impressed that it provided the library with brand new tables, chairs, and hundreds of more books.

The young teens who saw opportunity out of less than nothing arenow all part of the school’s library board, ensuring that it continues to grow.

UNICEF is now replicating the girl’s success with their own library intitiave, hoping to help more young people in the Gaza “to lead, learn, and have the opportunity to develop their minds and put their great ideas into practice. When you create a library … you have a choice about what to think. Reading is the basis of that choice.”

Mike Selby is Information Services Librarian at the Cranbrook Public Library

Just Posted

Evacuation order issued for St. Mary Valley

On Thursday evening at 8 p.m., the Regional District of East Kootenay… Continue reading

Louise Baxter found after 72 hour search

Cranbrook hiker had been missing since Sunday, August 12, near Jumbo Pass.

Regional hospital development study on hold

Plan to study future regional hospital development on hold due to staffing shortage: KERHD chair

Barrel rider Bobbie Goodwin back at Cranbrook Pro Rodeo

Back at the Cranbrook Pro Rodeo for 2018’s event, which takes place… Continue reading

UPDATE: RCMP say missing Cranbrook hiker found

Kimberley RCMP is reporting that a Cranbrook hiker missing in the Jumbo… Continue reading

B.C. wildfires 2018: Hazy skies impacting crews in spotting new fires

18,000 people are on an evacuation alert, with 3,000 homes under an evacuation order

Registration open now for October disc golf tournament

Registration opened on Monday, August 13 for the 2018 B.C. Provincials —… Continue reading

Paving underway on Cobham Avenue

Paving is underway on the City’s largest capital infrastructure project of 2018,… Continue reading

Minister optimistic after 2 days of Columbia River Treaty negotiations

Canadian and U.S. officials met in Nelson Wednesday and Thursday to discuss future of the treaty

Man dies in B.C. police cell while awaiting court hearing

An independent investigation is underway after a man died while in Penticton police custody Aug. 16

RCMP appeal for tips, dashcam footage in German tourist shooting west of Calgary

The Durango crashed into the ditch after the shooting near the Goodstoney Rodeo Centre

2 nurses attacked at B.C. psych hospital, union calls for in-unit security

PHSA says that in-unit guards would do more harm than good

Former B.C. optician won’t be jailed for sexually assaulting minor

Kenneth Pilkington sentenced to 24 months’ probation for offence three decades ago

B.C. program to educate parents reduces ‘shaken baby syndrome’ by 35%

Period of PURPLE Crying was launched nearly a decade ago

Most Read