By: Joey Ayoub
I’ve recently joined the Lebanese NGO IQRA’ and although I haven’t done much with them yet, I will try and explain why I view its mission as being extremely important.
First let me present it by copy-pasting some info which you can find here
Iqra’ Association is a non-profit, non-sectarian, non-political association founded in 1994 and officially established in 1998. Iqra’ Association’s mission is to reinforce and encourage a lifetime reading habit among the under privileged Lebanese children as well as to raise awareness to the importance of reading as a route to self improvement.
- Reach out to elementary public school students in all areas of Lebanon.
- Equip Classrooms with class libraries containing books in Arabic and English/French.
- Foster interest in literature, books and reading for fun.
- Cooperate with concerned local and international bodies to raise public awareness on the importance of reading.
- Encourage creativity and improve reading and writing skills.
Unless you’ve been too busy shopping, you might have noticed that we live in a country that’s so corrupt that some of us get shocked when we see a decent honest anything happening. The geniuses that we have in power are dwarfed by the geniuses that support them and we now seem to be too engulfed by our fascination with the latest cellphones to be really giving a damn about those who do not have the time to waste their time.
It doesn’t take much to realize that corruption is all around but for those of us who have lived with it all our lives, it seems harder to overcome. We all know someone who is involved someway or another in that filthy lifestyle but we can’t really pretend to be clean if we don’t do anything about it.
Now to be quite honest, I don’t really care if my neighbor viewed his new iPhone Zx√637.G6B_SexyBoy (it just came out! go get it) as being the super most amazingly awesome thing that will ever happen to him until the Zx√637.G6B_SexyBoy2 comes out or if my she-friend’s passion is buying bigger and bigger sunglasses that make her look like a fly with lipsticks. All of that would have no importance whatsoever if it didn’t distract us from what is really going on – hence the “unless you were too busy shopping” part at the beginning.
I had the misfortune/fortune of seeing a glimpse of that part of the world that’s full of those who do stuff for us to consume – otherwise known as the unlucky bastards in our globalized system – which, not suprisingly, affected me for the better or worse. It’s easy to forget that these unlucky bastards are actually around us and not in some distant land when we’re distracted by all those sparkly advertisements 24/7. But they do exist. And they suffer silently behind that wall that we have erected in order to preserve our lifestyle without too much guilt affecting us. We occasionally do some nice stuff for some charity and feel good about ourselves for the month, sure.
That inherent injustice that sucks the life out of part of the population to vivify the other part will always be what it is unless its very foundation is fixed.
This is where I believe IQRA’ comes in.
Far from claiming to be a solution to all of Lebanon’s problems, it has dedicated itself to tackling the issue of education in a country where public schools are living hells destined to keep the underprivileged in their current position. They offer no real opportunity for any child but are merely there to look adequate for paper work.
These kids are not allowed to have dreams because the society they live in forbids it. Having a dream would be too hard to bear if it were impossible to achieve. It requires too much emotional energy to be sustained indefinitely. Dreams have expiry dates if the dreamer is too busy surviving.
When I heard of IQRA’ for the first time, I couldn’t help but think of one kid in the village of Ambohibola (southern Madagascar) called Farankoke (or Franko for short). That kid learned to read and write on his own and was able to converse in basic French and English by the time we left the village (we stayed for 3 months – 2 in my case). He attended both my French classes and Mengxing and Chloe’s English classes and his eyes grew to Anime size when he found out that we were starting a small library for his village. I have yet to sent the hundred books that I’m planing to send to their village but I can’t imagine how happy he will be. Education allows a child to think for himself/herself, to be less dependent of his/her environment, to dream. Children want to discover the world. They want to understand their surroundings by asking hundreds of annoying questions.
The IQRA’ people’s love for the children of Lebanon has allowed them to fight hard against the inherent injustices and provide the kids with books and caring love which allowed them to dare to dream. We Lebanese still have a long way to go before being able to count on our government. Not all of us even realize how long that way really is.
In the meantime, we should recognize our responsibility to take care of those who were abandoned by that failure of a system we are part of. We should be pissed off when we see a child on the street playing with garbage. We should do whatever we can – and by whatever, I mean whatever – to give these children what we have received for no other reason than the fact that we were luckier. None of the 4-year-olds on the streets deserve less than what we had when we were 4 years old.
We must get rid of that delusion that sustains our current society for the simple reason that children suffer from it.
IQRA’ needs volunteers of all ages who are willing to read to children and/or donate books. If you are interested, you can contact me on [email protected] or IQRA’ directly on
+961 1-365149 / 1-365159
Blue Building, 5th floor #512
Abdel Aziz Street