With the support of the French Development Agency (AFD), BSF is currently implementing a vast project to support refugees, displaced persons, returnees, and hosts in three countries: Burundi, Iraq, and Lebanon. Although the contexts of intervention are different, the objectives are shared in order to:
• Strengthen the quality of and access to education and training programs.
• Contribute to the protection and psychosocial wellbeing of users, especially the youth.
• Promote social cohesion and peace building for exiled and host populations.
To do this, BSF and its local operational partners are deploying three Ideas Box in Lebanon, one in Iraq and nine in Burundi, aimed at various audiences. Workshops on rights awareness, teaching French as a foreign language (FLE) and education in relation to the school curricula of the three respective countries are regularly offered. To date, the project has benefited nearly 40,000 people: children and youth aged 8 to 25, adults, leaders and members of the communities involved, education and protection professionals, etc.
In the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein El Hilwe in Saïda, southern Lebanon, Bibliothèques Sans Frontières and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) installed an Ideas Box in February 2018. It is located in the cultural and educational center of Alwan, open to all children, whatever their affiliations – this, in an extremely divided camp and in an unstable and tense context. The activities organized with the Ideas Box have reached more than 2,000 children and adults. Initially conceived to strengthen the informal education programs held at the center, the reach of the Ideas Box quickly increased. Today, it allows nearby kindergarten groups to come enjoy its games and books every week. A women’s association meets around the Ideas Box for knitting and embroidery sessions, and groups of young people take photography lessons.
Nearly half of the 500,000 Syrian refugees of school age in Lebanon are not in school. School dropout particularly affects young people ages 12 through 18 and exposes them to many risks, such as exploitation in the labor market or early marriage.
Since the summer of 2016, alongside the NGO Intersos and with the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), LWB has contributed,to the management of a community center in El Marj, in the Bekaa Valley, the region of the largest number of Syrian refugees. LWB installed an Ideas Box there that served over a thousand people in 2016.
The Ideas Box in the El Marj community center was first used in many different ways in order to identify the uses, expectations, and desires of the center’s visitors.The participants selected four activities: storytelling through writing and drawing; self-training in hairdressing, in sewing, and in make-up via online videos; photography; and computer workshops for using software such as Word, Excel, or Powerpoint.
Since 2007, Libraries Without Borders has collected books from institutions, editors, and individuals in France. Organized and referenced by the team and by volunteers at our collection center at Épône, the books sustain our projects and libraries all around the world, from refugee camps in Burundi to rural areas in France. In 13 years, we have sent 380,000 books to 30 countries.
More than 30,000 books are referenced in our online catalogue, readily available to libraries and partner associations of LWB. Others are resold as second-hand goods or resold during monthly farmer’s markets which help finance our actions.
In 2015, LWB selected and sent books to Lebanon.