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“What is a man, a woman, a kid, one time his life saved, his food and his lodging found, if, without activities, he cannot read, write, design, or communicate, in order to better shape and reconstruct his future?
PATRICK WEIL, PRESIDENT OF LIBRARIES WITHOUT BORDERS
The attacks perpetrated against Charlie Hebdo journalists left us collectively questioning the principles of individual freedom and freedom of conscience. Helpless when confronted by questions to which they had no answers, a large number of teachers and parents turned to Libraries Without Borders.
Why is wearing the full-face veil (niqab) prohibited? Is religious marriage allowed? In response, Libraries Without Borders worked with lawyers, teachers, and historians to produce a web series of ten educational videos as well as a book on secularism explained by law, accessible to all.
Around the World
By installing Ideas Cubes in 25 Community Youth Centers, BSF strengthens the access and quality of information on sexual and reproductive health for young Burundians, especially adolescent girls. To do this, BSF has surrounded ourselves with actors with traditional health experiences, and we have trained local partners (with digital skills in particular) to set up mediation and awareness workshops based on tailor-made content selected by BSF. Thanks to cameras in the Ideas Cube kits, individuals can also create their own content and share it with their peers.
In 2019, BSF installed ten Ideas Cubes and five Ideas Boxes in Rohingya refugee camps and surrounding host communities. Several workshops have been set up for Rohingya children and adolescents, such as the creation of an interactive map of various camp services, or the collection of traditional Rohingya stories and tales. These libraries, both physical and digital, provide an opportunity for refugees and local populations to come and learn every day, to discover themselves, to play, and to express themselves both individually and collectively.
In 2018, Libraries Without Borders set up an Ideas Box in Sicily in order to work with different local actors to promote the integration of young exiles, mainly Guineans, Gambians and Burkinabés. The digital tools, board games, and selected books from the Ideas Box allow migrants, in particular, to learn Italian or to find a job.
In 2016, after the government of President Juan Manuel Santos and former FARC combatants signed a peace agreement, twenty Ideas Boxes were installed in demobilization and transition zones, where the FARC laid down their arms to reintegrate into society. By creating meeting spaces, these libraries have made it possible to initiate the peace building process by encouraging exchanges and restoring trust between affected communities.
In 2012, BSF launched the international appeal, L’Urgence de Lire (The Urgency to Read), supported by more than a hundred intellectuals, including eight Nobel Prize winners. BSF then relayed and disseminated this campaign to international organizations and to the United States.
THE CHALLENGE: Make the intellectual dimension of human beings in danger a priority for emergency aid.
In December 2018, 181 member states of the United Nations adopted the Global Compact on Migration, which identifies a set of commitments to improve the protection of and the access to education services for refugees and migrants. We are thrilled about this success!
The Ideas Box is a mobile media library, in kit form, which opens in less than 20 minutes to create a cultural space of 100m2. Equipped with an internet connection, about twenty computers and tablets, digital and physical books, and a cinema, it is a formidable, multipurpose resource and box of tools that children and adults can use in order to design and build their future. Designed by Philippe Starck, it was originally designed to reconnect families and strengthen education in emergency and post-conflict situations. Today, it is also deployed in priority neighborhoods and rural areas in Europe, the United States, and Australia.
In 2015, Libraries Without Borders created the Ideas Cube, which is an ultra-portable and autonomous digital library that works without Internet connection. It creates a wifi hotspot that users can connect to using a smartphone, tablet, or computer in order to access thousands of educational, cultural, or training resources. In a library, a school, or a medical center in rural areas, it broadcasts content in the form of texts, videos, or online courses and allows around thirty simultaneous connections.
When connected to the Internet, the Ideas Cube updates and shares all locally created content in the cloud. New resources can also be downloaded from an online catalog.
In 2018, Libraries Without Borders created the social enterprise Kajou, to distribute quality digital content – offline – to populations disconnected from the Internet in sub-Saharan Africa. Through the Kajou app, both free and easy to use, users are connected to: Wikipedia in Wolof, tutorials to protect against malaria, debates on current events in Casamance, audiobooks, exercises for learning to count, databases of patterns for tailors, MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) to manage your micro-business, etc.
This content will be available thanks to the Kajou Card, an SD card that fits into smartphones, or the Kajou Boss, a 100% autonomous server for collective and intensive use, allowing up to twenty simultaneous connections and offering nearly ten hours of autonomy.