Book Aid - Fragile States: books building futures

Books Change Lives. This is the motto of Book Aid, the UK’s leading international book donation and library development charity.

Last Thursday, in the apt setting of the British Library, it was so apparent that this is the case and that Book Aid live and breathe by this motto.

It was a chance for charity’s supporters to get together and celebrate the work of the charity while learning more about their recent work Introduced by the Chief Exec, Alison Tweed, we heard from two fantastic speakers in Her Excellency the High Commissioner of Barbuda & Antigua, Karen Mae Hill, and BBC World News Anchor, Zeinab Badawi. Getting 32m books around the world, Book Aid is a vital resource in rebuilding fragmented communities, providing education, entertainment and solace in the form of books to those that need it. Practical medical education is brought to student hospitals and transit camps where it otherwise wouldn’t be and fiction can momentarily be a reality for people as they read stories that take them away from the facts of living in temporary camps. Alison asked us to think what our lives would be like without books and very quickly we see the importance of their work.

Following last year’s hurricane in the Carribbean, Book Aid brought books to Antigua, where residents from Barbuda had been forced to flee. Imagine being a victim of natural disaster and having nothing, and then being given access to books in a refugee camp and reading about other natural disasters and realising that it does happen to other people and other people get through it. It can be a form of therapy for them, giving them a language to discuss what’s happening to them with each other and some moments escape from the real world when the generator doesn’t have enough power for their iPad!

Bedwai supported the discussions of the evening that while other forms of aid, such as power and water and medical attention are clearly imperative and are perhaps more essential to the health of those in such situations, we cannot lose sight of the power of the book. Through books we can learn, escape, create discussions, open our minds to viewpoints from around the world and enrich our minds with local thought.

As publishers, the work that you do does change lives and as you go to meetings, pour over texts or work hard for your next promotion, don’t forget the transformations you can be making all around the world.