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Trasnforming Refugees into Storytellers

Training refugees to read aloud to children in their neighborhood can instill an interest for reading, education and creativity.

Photo of Dina Bokai
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The We Love Reading (WLR) initiative in Jordan trained 20 ladies and 6 men from the Za'atari refugee camp in Jordan to become storytellers for the children in their neighborhoods.  Each of the refugees turned storytellers received a set of 25 children's stories as the start to their own libraries.

WLR succeeded in instilling an interest for reading and education in the minds of Syrian children that hadn't touched a book in month or even years. The children learned to value and appreciate reading, writing and creativity. The stories also helped the children imagine and tap into possibilities beyond the challenges of life in the refugee camps.

What can we learn?

  1. Any empty space, even a tent or a rug, can be transformed into a learning space or a local library.
  2. Local neighbors can be trained to be teachers; capacity building can lead the way to sustainability.
  3. We can create impact through very simple interventions.
  4. Stories are powerful learning tools!

To learn more about WLR please visit their website through the following link: http://www.welovereading.org/index.php?lang=en

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Photo of Linda

It would be wonderful if each of the trained storytellers were trained to develop a story from their own history. Part of the training could involved brainstorming stories from their own lives which could be well suited to translation into a children's story. This would continue the tradition of verbal story telling but also act as a cultural maintenance as the stories from each generation are handed down in a new way as refugees move to other cultures. The stories can be positive memories of their home culture.

Photo of Dina Bokai

Thank you for your comment Linda! I absolutely love the idea of training the refugees to develop stories from their own history. We can also have the children create their own illustrations to go with these books. Or even train them to act out the stories as in create plays for their neighborhood and invite other children to watch.

Photo of Amir H. Mazrouei

Great post! Thank you Dina for sharing such an inspirational project.
The stories developed by the refugees then can be published an a monthly newsletter distributed in the camps. Such an initiative can be found through the Xavier Project in Africa. (http://www.tamuka.org/)

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