It started when two friends began volunteering in refugee camps in Greece and realized that people needed more than just food, water, and shelter. As The Guardian
reports, they wanted to study, to work for their future and to find a sense of purpose. So, the two friends, Laura Samira Naude and Esther ten Zijthoff, decided to launch Education Community Hope and Opportunity (Echo) and open a library on wheels.
Friends in London and Belgium did the fundraising and fitted out an old minibus with shelves and computer points for internet access, then drove it to Greece. The two then appealed for books in Arabic, Kurdish, Farsi, French, Greek and English, slowly filling the shelves and finally opening in November 2016.
They now have about 1,300 books – including some in storage because they don’t fit into the van – and welcome an average of 115 readers a week. So far, they have loaned out 904 books.
Those who come to the library love it: children say it feels like home; a Syrian economics professor used it to translate his work into English and young Afghans keen to learn English started informal classes. Those leaving the camp have even donated their own books.