Early in 2016, Libraries Without Borders started the Ideas Box, a large-scale program in Europe, along the route of refugees. In this context, we invite you to follow the steps of this program via our blog on Libération, ‘Parcours de Réfugiés’ (Refugees Journeys)." 1st step: Athens and Lesbos, Greece.
This is the first article of an ongoing series of blog articles originally featured in the French newspaper Libération.
By Patrick Weil, Chairman of Libraries Without Borders
About 880,000 refugees entered the European Union in 2015, often crossing the Mediterranean Sea. These are all lives to be rebuilt and new pages to be written. ‘Parcours de Réfugiés’ (Refugees Journeys) will be meeting with men, women and children who took every risk to reach Europe and who will spend the next weeks, or even months, crossing countries they don’t know the language nor the codes before settling down.
After dealing with the first emergencies – getting food, medical treatment, and taking shelter – comes the need for means of communication available to refugees to contact their families and reassure them. Refugees need information about the legal and administrative procedures and about their environment. They need educational tools and resources to learn a new language, to get a professional training or even reconnect with school for the younger ones. And families and children need a welcoming and secure place, where they feel at ease, where they can rest, exchange and do activities to quite simply rebuild themselves.
This year, in order to meet these emergencies, NGO ‘Bibliothèques Sans Frontières’ (Libraries without borders) is deploying the Ideas Box along the route of refugees, first in Greece and then in the Balkans and in Germany. Developed in partnership with the HCR and designed by Philippe Starck, the Ideas Box is a portable multimedia center easy to use even in the most difficult circumstances and therefore adapted to the needs of refugee populations. Each one of them is equipped with an Internet connection, about twenty laptops and tablets, books and ebooks, one mobile cinema, thousands of educational and information documents, and also leisure resources for the younger ones. Since 2014, 80,000 refugees in Burundi, Jordan and Lebanon have been using the Ideas Box.
This blog will be following Romain and Céline who are in charge of setting up the Ideas Box. They will be sharing with you their encounters, life stories of the people they meet, and the work of other NGOs. Of course, they will also be showing you the setting up of the first Ideas Box and its daily impact on the population. They will be recounting the people’s experiences with the box and the creations resulting from its presence, for we hope that, here, in Europe, as it is already the case in Burundi and Jordan, the Ideas Box will become for the refugees and their children a space of their own.
But this blog is also yours. Feel free to add any comments to the publications, share your experiences and give us your feedbacks, advices and likes. In solidarity.