Books to Baghdad Program Suspended in Alabama
The Associated Press
7/16/2007, 3:32 p.m. CDT
JACKSONVILLE, Ala. (AP) — A Jacksonville State University professor is suspending a
program that shipped more than 55,000 books and journals to
universities in Iraq.
Safaa Al-Hamdani, the organizer of Books to Baghdad, said the
program was so successful that other universities in Iraq
started asking for books, and he felt he was no longer able
to meet the demand. Also, his main source of books —
universities in Alabama — appear to be tapped out.
"If you promise and you don't deliver, that's
the worst thing you can do, especially during this
time," the Iraqi native said. "It's a labor
of love. I would love to continue to do it but ... I
don't see how."
Books for Baghdad has largely been run on a volunteer basis.
Al-Hamdani, or sometimes student volunteers, have driven to
universities to pick up textbooks donated for the project,
and Jacksonville State maintenance workers have helped pack
the books and projectors, computers and other donated
materials for shipment, The Birmingham News reported.
Since 2005, the project has sent four shipments to
universities in Iraq, primarily in Baghdad. A humanitarian
agency, International Relief and Development, has paid for
the shipments, but Al-Hamdani and other volunteers have paid
other expenses associated with the project out of their own
pockets. In Iraq, Al-Hamdani's sister and her husband
have helped distribute the books.
If a source of funds were available to pay for collecting,
cataloging and packing the books, Al-Hamdani said, he might
consider restarting the project. But it needs to collect at
least 12,000 textbooks before they can be shipped.
Al-Hamdani, a biology professor, said the book project sent
the message that Americas care about what is happening in
Iraq, and it became "a bright light" amid the violence.
"They believe, `OK, we are not alone. There are some
people thinking about us and they want to help,'"
Information from: The Birmingham News
for news releases by using the request form at www.jsu.edu/newswire/request