“Reading books makes me happy. Reading enables me to see the vast world, though I only live in the village”
Heartfelt happiness is a precious thing for children who live in times of conflict and post conflict. Their childhood is taken away and replaced by horrible and traumatic experiences such as shooting, killing, burning, torture, and they have to run for their life and become refugees in the forest for months. No more time to play, let alone practical joke. The only thing available for them is teror.
In post conflict period, the world they live in is a world protected by a fortress of identity based on ethnicity or religion. The feeling of suspicious, revenge and also hate against the world outside their own community not only create a feeling of being alienated, but also the feeling of being viewed as the enemy that if necessary would be combated. Difference is an alien concept to them because in their childhood, their world is confined, no room (to learn about the differences).
Books can serve as the bridge of their feelings that enable them to have dreams. Just listen to what 12 years old Andi says, “I want to be like Arai in the book of ‘Laskar Pelangi’(The Rainbow Army). He was smart, though he was poor, and lived in a village, and though he was an orphan.” Or listen to 17 years old Murni, “I want to become a comic book writer. I can better express what I feel when I draw pictures.” Their dreams have become their source of motivation in pursuing their aspirations for a better life.
Books enable them to break through the limitation of their identity box and take them adventuring the vast world and develop their awareness of the beauty of differences of many things in the world.
The idea of mobile library also comes from the story of the children who live outside the refugee compound. In pursuing a heartfelt happiness and to see the outside world, dozen of children travel as far as 2-3 kilometer to the Sophia Library. There are only twenty books available so these children need to take turn to read them. Yet these books are read over and over again enthusiastically by hundred of children. The only limitation to their enthusiasm is their lack of access to books. Therefore, they are so happy when a few parties organized by the Indonesian Community in Japan (ICJ) donate hundreds of books to the Sophia Project.
Therefore, the Sophia Project decides to use the idea of mobile library so that more children can enjoy a “happy heart” and “see the vast world”, to dream, and to give shape to their dream of a beautiful and peaceful post-conflict life.
To learn more about Project Sophia and to support World Faith Indonesia’s ambitious project, please visit: http://www.sophialibrary.blogspot.com/