ILMK Reader Hero #5: Amjad, the Syrian underground librarian
Readers make the world a better place. The I Love My Kindle blog recognizes those extraordinary few who make heroic efforts to expand their minds, their hearts, and their perspectives by engaging with the world’s culture through the experience of literature.
They are our Reader Heroes.
Our readers so far have come from places not always associated with heroism…like most ILMK readers, their lives have presumably been relatively safe.
ILMK Reader Hero #5, known only as Amjad, is a fourteen-year old living in one of the least safe places in the world…war-torn Syria.
Imagine that bombs were falling around you every day. In your neighborhood, homes are often in ruins.
What would be most important to you in that situation?
For some, there was one particular goal. It was a goal that drove them to risk sniper fire, as they risked everything to enter those ruined homes, in quest of a particular kind of treasure. That treasure would be taken to a secret location, literally underground.
What were they after?
Eventually, according to reports, there were 15,000 books in this subterranean haven.
Amjad became effectively the librarian, spending several hours a day there, reading and caring for the books.
This young teen describes in news stories how reading expanded a frightened mind, how important it was. In a CNN story, the translation of Amjad’s comments includes this:
“I liked the place and I learned by reading. Reading made me happy.”
In that CNN piece by Frederik Pleitgen and Claudia Otto, we learn that, while Amjad had so far survived the war, the library has not. Civilians have been removed from the area. The carefully maintained shelves are now mostly bare, with volumes fallen and in disarray…at least, those not removed by Syrian troops.
Amjad smiles to see the library again on the reporter’s phone.
It was an island of sanity, history, and community in a sea of chaos and destruction.
For months, Amjad, fourteen years old, would make an arduous swim to that island…and once there, would guide other swimmers, dripping with despair, to 15,000 worlds of escape.
Only to swim back, risking life…and would repeat it again and again
There were many heroes in the story of this library, many who dared all to read and to help others read…and not all have survived.
ILMK recognizes Amjad, the Syrian underground librarian, as our fifth Reader Hero.
Readers of ILMK are welcome to express their congratulations to Amjad and to offer support and encouragement by commenting on this post and/or clicking on the poll below.
Related news stories (some include video):
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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. Shop ’til you help! By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.