The Seraj Library Project is a non-profit 501(c)3 providing initiative and support in developing libraries in rural Palestinian villages. Its mission is to assist in the education of Palestinian villagers of all ages and faiths through the development of high quality and accessible library programs. The project is based on the belief that civic education is the best route to democracy, human rights and peace.
Estephan and Laurie Salameh founded the Seraj Library Project in 2005 in Chicago, Illinois. Estephan has a Ph.D. in Urban Planning and Public Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is a former adviser to the Palestinian Prime Minister and currently a senior adviser at the United Nations Development Program in Jerusalem and an adjunct professor at Birzeit University. Laurie has a Master's degree in Nonprofit Administration from North Park University and is on the board of World Vision Jerusalem-West Bank-Gaza. They currently live in Jerusalem with their children where they are working for a lasting and just peace to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics indicates that women and children are in the greatest need for educational resources. Based on their findings only 11% of children aged ten and over have access to the Internet through their schools, with boys more likely to have access than girls (16% and 8% respectively). Only 3% of households indicate they have access to a library or Internet after school hours.
Because the Palestinian culture is so family oriented, meeting the needs of both the mothers and the children simultaneously will have a positive effect on the entire family.
Palestinians face many obstacles and constraints in their daily lives, including checkpoints; separation from churches, mosques, families and schools; crossfire; demolition of homes; poverty; unemployment. The people of these communities need to realize an end to the occupation, a just peace with Israel and a sense of normalcy in their daily lives.
Laurie and Estephan Salameh
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Seraj Library Project