Human Library: A safe space to ‘read’ a chapter in the life of Asylum Seekers

Nov 27, 2021

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Sometimes the best effort to fight misconceptions, prejudice and divide among the local Maltese population and the persons who have landed on our shores in search of a better life, is through creating a safe space for encounter. This is the idea behind the JRS Human Library – creating an open environment where the public gets to ‘read’ a chapter in the life of asylum seekers and those people who work with them.

The Human Library, which is going to be held on 9 December at the GWU building in Valletta, will provide a unique opportunity for members of the public to sit down and meet people who have embarked on a journey with the hope of a better life in Europe.

We refer to reading only a ‘chapter’ because getting to know someone’s life story takes longer than an encounter of a couple of hours. But we are hoping this is only the start.

Human Libraries started as a simple concept where instead of walking into a library to read a book, you read a person. You borrow a person for a short time, just to get a glimpse of a reality that is different from ours.

Besides meeting refugees or people who are seeking asylum in Malta, guests will also have the opportunity to meet people who work in the sector, among them staff from JRS.

The City Theatre Hall in the General Workers Union (GWU) building in Valletta will be exclusively open for JRS between 6pm and 9:30pm. Those who wish to attend need to fill a short registration form. We are also asking guests to commit to being respectful to the participants of this exercise. These asylum seekers are going to share difficult moments of their life and we ask everyone to be respectful and understanding.

How will it work?

A number of ‘books’ (asylum seekers and professionals who work with them) will be sitting around the hall. At the very entrance of the event, you will skim through the short biography of each. Then, just as you do at a normal library, you will decide which story you want to read or know better.

Every ‘book’ will sit with no more than three people at one go. We want to keep this as intimate as possible. The idea is to have a safe space, where both the participants and those telling their stories, feel comfortable.

Each encounter will take around 20 minutes. You are free to ask questions or revisit a ‘book’ you already read later on throughout the evening. This is an ongoing event, open between 6pm and 9:30pm, so feel free to pop by anytime. The last entry will be at 9pm.

Once again, we remind you to be respectful to the persons that are sharing their stories.

We hope to see you there!

This event is being done in collaboration with FAB! Family Based Care for Children in Migration, a project Co-funded by the European Union.

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