In Istanbul, a Library for Displaced Refugees

Through the lens of the mainstream media we view the refugee crisis in Europe as a battle between clashing cultures. However, we tend to forget that the people involved are simply human beings. Human beings who love the same things we do. We too often forget that they are people just like us who are simply trying to survive.

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As many of you already know, reading can be a positive part of an individual’s life. For Syrians escaping their war torn home, being able to sit in a safe space to get lost in a literary world may be the difference between sanity and insanity. Try to imagine the immense stress refugees must be under, not accepted at home and not accepted abroad.

That’s where the hero of this story comes in; his name is Samer al-Kadri. Samer is a Syrian citizen who was forced out of his country because of his rebellion against Bashar al-Assad, the now dictator of Syria. He started a children’s book publishing company called Bright fingers in Syria. Unfortunately it was raided as punishment for speaking out against Assad. 

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Samer owns Pages Bookstore and Café in Istanbul which features primarily Arabic and Syrian authors. Anybody can come in and read for free or pay about $7 to check out an unlimited number of books for one month. Syrian children at a local school said being at Pages bookstore made them feel at home, a gift more valuable than we could possibly imagine. 

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