The young Palestinian living in Gaza City has launched a campaign to open a public library in the Strip. He encourages donors to send their volumes from abroad in order to offer Gazan people the chance to read and meet in a peaceful place
by Giovanni Vigna
Roma, 6th June 2016, Nena News – Mosab Abu Toha, living in Gaza, is 24 years old. His dream is to open a public library that could become a touchstone for those who want to read a book quietly and a place where people can meet and socialize. Mosab, who is a writer, knows that books help build intelligent and peaceful, educated and aware people.
As is known, Gazan population has been under siege for many years and Israeli military campaigns, come in succession in the course of time, have destroyed several buildings and the most territory, making this piece of land more and more inhospitable for 1.8 million people. Gaza suffers from the lack of infrastructures. After Israeli shelling in 2014, almost nothing has been rebuilt, least of all the places bound for cultural activities. The few existing libraries are placed in the universities.
Mosab Abu Toha, registered in Facebook as “Mosab Mostafa”, has open a page on the well-known social network in order to promote his project: «I want to establish a public library where all the Gazans can sit and read in a peaceful environment – Mosab states – people usually spend their free time in the coffee bar. Some other people would like to find a place to read and educate themselves rather than spending their time chatting and playing cards>>.
Abu Toha is unemployed, as the majority of residents in Gaza, where the shortage of work has become an endemic phenomenon. Sometimes Mosab teaches English:«I studied English language at the Islamic University in Gaza and graduated in 2014. My graduation ceremony had to be called off due to the latest assault in the Strip».
Regarding the chance to attend the few existing libraries, Abu Toha explains, most people can neither use nor borrow books from the libraries unless they work or study there. Also these libraries open their doors only while the universities are open: «There are also less than five libraries in the Gaza Strip but they don’t contain English books. The aim I am trying to achieve is to make available as many English books as possible. There are lots of bookworms in Gaza who read in English. I need the library to be more than a reading place but also to be a place where readers can meet, discuss and exchange ideas and experiences».
Mosab would like to rent a place in Gaza City where there is a huge number of citizens who can visit the library. Young Palestinian teacher has addressed an appeal to those who are interested in supporting the project: «The address to send the books is Mosab Abu Toha, Gaza – Palestine, zip code 00972. Now my aim is to find a way to collect money for the rent. I need help» Mosab declares. He is responsible for receiving books and contacting donors: «Until now they are friends».
On the Facebook page entitled “Library & Bookshop For Gaza” it is possible to contact Mosab, who accepts both used and new books, but those used should be in good condition. Abu Toha needs more people and organization to support this project even out of the Gaza Strip.
Which books is the young Palestinian going to collect? «The books I encourage to send are literary, philosophical, psychological, political, religious and sociological. The library will open when there is enough funding to rent the place and the availability of books. It depends on how much and how fast people respond to our project. Maybe it will happen this year».
Mosab reassures the donors that the books sent from abroad will arrive at their intended destination: «I did receive a few books from different places around the world. The books pass through Israeli crossing. Palestinians prefer to read literature, politics and sociology. You can find many young and old people reading in their homes or in the university libraries».
Young Palestinians have to face great difficulties in their courses of study: «There are many obstacles that prevent students from having their college education. In addition another problem is the lack of work opportunities and the chance of travelling to complete post-graduate degrees».
Abu Toha is convinced of the necessity of spreading culture. This is an urgent requirement for Gazans, although somebody could think that Gaza Strip residents’ needs are connected more with the material than with the spiritual aspects of life: «I do believe that reading books help people be more human, pacifist, intelligent and free-minded. They help by giving knowledge about the issue of Palestinian land occupation and how in the past subjugated people fought their conquerors». Nena News
The Italian version of this article is here