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Program to exchange school books in Dubai

Community program allows children to swap books with their peers

Superheroes with their flowing capes and secret identities are always trying to save the world. But, Dubai has a hero that wants to change the world one book at a time.

#BookHero, a concept initiated by Dubai-resident Montserrat Martin, initiated their school books exchange project ‘Book4Book’ in October. School children in the UAE have an opportunity to exchange their school textbooks with others their age for free. For every book they give in, they get to choose one.

Martin told Gulf News: “A lot of families in the UAE have more than two children and it is challenging for them to come up with the money to buy a whole set of new books every year. So, we thought why not extend the lives of the books by swapping them? We have around 3,000 books from the school, college and university level. Someone may have books that you need and vice versa.”

So far, the project has had a great response. In the past three weeks, over 110 exchanges have taken place, with some of those people bringing in 20 books each. Through word of mouth, many people have called the organisers to simply donate textbooks. The four-week event ends on November 12, with the stand currently set up at Oasis Centre in Dubai.

Martin said: “We have people calling about new textbooks being thrown into the garbage. We believe that a book’s content is holy and it needs to be shared. We’re only taking school books because education is every child’s basic right.”

The group only accepts books that are in a good condition, with nothing written on them. They do not purchase any textbooks.

“We promote the right for education at an affordable cost,” Martin said.

A few days ago, she received a call from a woman who is doing volunteer work in Greece, who requested some Arabic textbooks to be sent for the refugees. Martin hopes that this partnership will be fruitful with a certain number of Arabic books being sent to these refugee camps every month in the future.

Apart from this project for textbooks, #BookHero has been selling secondhand books for over a year for as little as Dh10. The focus of this project is animal welfare and to help sterilise stray cats.

Martin said: “We finance sterilisation campaigns in Dubai, focusing on overpopulated areas in collaboration with Dubai-based veterinary clinics. In 2015, we successfully sterilised over 1,000 cats and also homed over 200 abandoned or rescued animals. We don’t just want to prevent animal suffering but want to offer the community education through workshops and reduce the population of stray animals in residential areas. We practice a non-killing policy unless clinically advised.”

They currently have two permanent locations — in Dubai Sports City and Uptown Mirdiff — and have over 15,000 books up for grabs.

For more details on any of #BookHero’s initiatives, write to them at info@bookhero.in.

If you would like to experience all things books, then join #GNBookClub. You can register on our website or post on our Facebook page. We have discussions, debates, quizzes and competitions with books as prizes, So, discover the joy of reading.

Read more: http://gulfnews.com/your-say/gn-book-club/program-to-exchange-school-books-in-dubai-1.1926868