What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?
Although I am now permanently residing in Jordan, I lived in the United States for several years where I became involved in the public library in my community. When my family and I returned to my native Jordan, I felt a great loss when I realized that there was not a public library system available for my children. Neighborhood children were spending all their free time playing in the streets and reading was not encouraged outside of school.
I feel strongly that along with knowledge and understanding comes responsibility. Since I knew the importance of reading, I felt that if I didn’t do something to spread this knowledge, I would be letting down the children in my neighborhood and all across Jordan. I felt an unwavering need to take action. I didn’t wait for help. I didn’t look for others to blame. I took it upon myself to make the change. In the words of Ghandi, I chose to “be the change you want to see in the world.”
Because of this, I set out on the endeavor of opening my own library in my local neighborhood. This soon turned into a dream of establishing a library in each and every neighborhood across Jordan. Hence, the "We Love Reading" initiative was born!
I have been told that one person cannot make a difference. I say that the road of a thousand miles starts with one step and if a butterfly waves its wings in China a hurricane happens in the Atlantic. I believe that nothing is impossible. If we believe – it will happen.
Tell us about the person—the social innovator—behind this idea.
While in the US, my children used to go to the library to spend their free time, but where I currently live, there are no libraries, so I just kept on buying books for them.
With the passage of time, I realized that children in the neighbourhood waste their time playing in the streets and that they do not read. Keen to change the situation and encourage children to read, three years ago I launched a project called "We Love Reading".
I started holding reading sessions twice a month in a nearby mosque for my children and 60 others, ranging in age from 4 to 10.
To be able to have more children attend the activity, I worked to raise awareness among the residents of the area on the importance of reading and started collecting simple donations to buy short stories to read to the children. My projects have expanded and now they cover areas in Amman, the Jordan Valley and the northern regions.
I have also trained 20 women, with the help of the Children‘s Museum, in storytelling, to be able to narrate stories in an attractive way for children.
At the beginning of the project, I faced rejection, objection and lack of interest among families, but they soon started to support me, which motivated me to continue the project.
Recently, I was interviewed by local television, radio, and newspapers to discuss my innovative work and the impact I am making on the lives of children. A short documentary film was made about my work to increase awareness of early childhood reading.
In addition to being a civic leader, I currently works as an assistant professor in the Biology Department at the Hashemite University in Jordan.
How did you first hear about Changemakers?
If through another source, please provide the information
I heard about Changemakers from a friend who works at another Jordanian organization, Women in Technology.