By Irene Izquieta, Institute for Cultural Diplomacy
Nelson Mandela once said “Education is the most powerful weapon that anyone can use to change the world”. He was completely right. Education opens doors and windows. It brings opportunities and chances for success to keep walking the path of life. And finally, these opportunities are a synonym of FREEDOM. With education, you can fly. Refugee camps on the other hand, are certainly not associated with freedom. They mean fear, a long-lasting time of waiting that never seems to end and a metallic net that divides the world in two sides.
In 1975, the decolonization of Occidental Sahara was signed between Spain, Morocco and Mauritania. In this process something was forgotten, it was incomplete, the politics did not engage with the citizens and the Saharan people were forgotten. What happened then? The hostile territory of the Sahara desert in Algeria became their new home. They became refugees in the middle of the war and the peace, in nobody´s land. The years passed and in 2010, there were still thousands of Saharan refugees that looked at the world from their camp.
Nowadays, given the situation, it seems that even if the Saharan people speak loud, their voice cannot be heard. However, in 2011, a wisp of hope came into the Saharan refugee camps. The Bubisher had arrived. The project, named after the Saharan lucky bird, Bubisher has a unique goal. It wants to bring back the voice to these people, this project wants to hear loud Saharan voices and it wants to do it through culture, through education. The Bubisher wants to give wings to the Saharan people, but here is the question: how does it do it? The answer is simple: the culture arrives by bus because the Bubisher is the “bus of freedom”. It is a “library with wheels”. It contains books written in Spanish, which allows the children to keep their Spanish language, by reading and writing it, and above that, thanks to all those books and the stories hidden in them and thanks to the work of the Spanish volunteers, the Saharan children can fly. Now, after a couple of years, the project has turned into something bigger. It has become a part of the refugee community. This lucky bird has brought a new feeling of hope. The Saharan refugees have become an active part of the project, they get involved and the community is empowered through cultural initiatives brought by this “library bus”.
It is true that in the desert, it is hard to make a seed grow, but thanks to this project the seed of culture, the seed of education is growing and a tree has started to emerge. The Bubisher, the Saharan lucky bird can now fly over the refugee camps and see that he has a tree to rest on and watch how education brings freedom to the people who thought that hope was gone forever.
- Ángel L. Martínez, “Biblioteca móvil en los campos Saharauis”. 3500 millones. Blogs Sociedad. El País. Available at: http://blogs.elpais.com/3500-millones/2013/06/bubisher-la-historia-de-los-libros-en-el-desierto.html
- Gonzalo Iribarnegaray, “El Bubisher; el pájaro de la suerte saharaui”. Available at: http://www.gonzaloiribarnegaray.com/wp-content/uploads/el-bubisher.pdf
Center for Cultural Diplomacy Studies Publication
Institute for Cultural Diplomacy