The Library Project - Delivered
On our previous visits to Mar Elias, we had seen how the Library, along with the church at Mar Elias, was the most important space at the centre for the internally displaced people. It was one of the first buildings to go up: a couple of containers with a great window carved into the side. The Library provided a safe space for children to learn and play under supervision. Crucially, it was a place where young girls could mix with people their own age.
Whenever we popped our heads in, the library was full of students doing their homework, practising their musical instruments, reading some of the books in many languages, or playing with some of the toys. It didn't have the hush that you might expect of a library in the U.K., but it was a warm and hopeful place that people took seriously and respected.
Since the temporary accommodation has been dismantled, the library has remained a crucial point of contact for the IDPs. Classes still occur and young people still gather there in its safe space. At a time when there is concern that some of the young girls are returning to the isolation that they were subject to in their villages, the library remains a place their parents can have confidence in, where they can see their friends without restriction.
Since our last visit, Fr Daniel asked if we would be interested in helping to set up another library at their sister church: St John the Baptist in Kirkuk. This was a new venture for us as we will be supporting a parish outside of Erbil; however, having seen the huge difference this facility can make to a community, we believe that it was an appropriate step to take. Kirkuk has a significant Christian community and, like, Ankawa, houses a substantial number of Christian IDPs displaced by ISIS.
A space for the library was found (see on the above) and - thanks to your donations - we were able to help make their vision of a useful space for learning and teaching a reality. Have a look at the video below for more!
"A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life." - Henry Ward Beecher