In May, 2014, We Love Reading (WLR) launched a pilot program in the Za’atari Refugee Camp for Syrian refugees in northern Jordan. The pilot program is scheduled to run from May to the end of August. The WLR team trained 20 ladies and 6 men from inside Za’atari to become storytellers for the children in their neighborhoods. The storytellers come from different districts in the camp; however they share the same willingness to volunteer their time to read aloud to the children of their neighborhoods. After their training, each of the 26 storytellers received a set of 25 children’s stories as the start to their own libraries. The books were theirs to keep and read aloud to the children from around their neighborhood.
This pilot program marks the first time WLR reaches a Syrian refugee camp. Since the program was launched, the speed and success with which the program took off within the Za’atari refugee homes was exciting. “In the beginning, I used to ask the children over and over to come listen to my stories. But now, they come to my home and beg to be read to,” storyteller and 20-year-old Hiyam said. This newfound and blooming interest among the children for reading and books is a phenomenon many of the Za’atari storytellers share.
We Love Reading has instilled an interest for reading and education in the minds of Syrian children who before hadn’t touched a book in months – even years. Through the stories read to them, the children in Za’atari have learned to value and appreciate reading, writing and creativity. They have tapped into a world of possibilities beyond the challenges of life in the refugee camp found through the words and colorful illustrations of their books.
This project was funded by LitWorld. LitWorld is a non-profit literacy organization fostering resilience, hope, and joy through the power of story.