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 -- appears 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.
|Safaa Al-Hamdani, a Jacksonville State University faculty member, has been leading the "Books to Baghdad" effort.
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 at least 12,000
textbooks need to be collected before they can be shipped.
a biology professor, said the book project sent the message that
Americans 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,'" he said.