By Victor Carpe
When it comes to the conflict in Syria, we have often heard about the stories of refugees’ hardships when attempting to enter Europe as of late. But despite this crisis and the difficulties migrants face upon arrival in most European countries, positive stories remain for the displaced people of Syria, even at home.
The war in Syria is still raging on, but some brave youths have managed to create a haven of peace and learning despite the conflict. When observing recent headlines on Syria, prospects seem to be getting and grimmer. The clashes have not waned, and the number of refugees and internally displaced persons is ever-increasing. However, by focusing on the negative reality that Syrian refugees face, we often tend to forget the importance of their resilience and capacity to continue every day as positively as possible.
We must turn towards the constant efforts these people make towards bettering their daily reality. If not, the world will start treating them as casualties of war instead of humans. Some have chosen to risk their lives because they have refused to simply survive and made the choice to live to the best of their abilities. Such is the case of the citizens of the besieged town of Darayya. They have rescued and collected over 11,000 books from inhabitants’ homes which were being destroyed by napalm.
The result is an astounding library which has now given these displaced citizens somewhere to learn and enjoy themselves in peace at last. As told to the reporters from Humans of Syria, Abu Al-Ezz proudly stated: “One day we came up with the idea to collect all the books scattered throughout the city under the rubble of demolished homes. It’s been a daunting and dangerous task. We’ve spent long days cataloguing the books, so if the owners return after the war they can have them back.” These people can now choose to spend their time in this haven and relax, at least momentarily, from the realities they may have to face outside.
As Abu Malek Alshamy told reporters; “We created an atmosphere inside the library of silence and light, with tables for the readers.” “In such a place, the most beautiful thing is getting away from the war and battles.” In essence, it is a powerful statement that these people have made not just to the soldiers besieging them by recklessly taking back their right to educate themselves, and regain their ability to enjoy life as humans through this sanctuary they have created. They are also showing us that we need to consider them as individuals, with dreams, aspirations, and needs, not as a people who are bound to suffer
However, the reality on the ground today is that Syria is the country with the most Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the world, with at least 7.6 million people displaced as of July 2015. This story, along with many others, shows us the importance of fighting for the rights of refugees but also for the internally displaced. Whether these people are abroad or have been displaced in their own countries, it is our duty to understand their past, present, and desire for a better future. This inspiring example of self-empowerment by the citizens of Darayya must show us the way towards assisting refugees and IDPs by at least making their everyday lives easier and more enjoyable. These people need not only the tools for survival, but also the means and spaces to live as humans ought to. This type of support is also crucial as it brings the motivation and human dignity which is essential to any human. Communities, families, and individuals are at stake. The story of this library keeps reminding us that human resilience can overcome the worst conditions, and that there are so many ways refugees’ and displaced peoples’ lives can be improved.