Reprinted here in its entirety.
one week’s time, books — a fundamental tool of education — have become
a precious, and increasingly rare, commodity in Calhoun County.
Anniston High, scores of library shelves sit empty following a May 2006
fire and what seems to be an embarrassingly half-hearted effort by the
school’s leadership to replace them. It’s been 14 months since the
fire, and still Anniston High’s library is stocked with more empty
space than educational volumes.
No less saddened are we to learn
that Jacksonville State University’s Safaa Al-Hamdani has suspended his
Books for Baghdad program because the project had grown too large for
him to handle and, unfortunately, because donors — many of them other
universities in Alabama — no longer have an ample supply of surplus
books that can be sent to the Middle East.
Al-Hamdani’s program has represented a godsend for Iraqi students
seeking an advanced education in a war-wracked city. Since its
inception in 2004, the program, with help from volunteers and
humanitarian groups, has solicited, collected, packaged, labeled and
shipped more than 55,000 books to Baghdad. Al-Hamdani and those who’ve
assisted him should be commended.
Al-Hamdani, a biology professor
at JSU and a native of Iraq, has not shuttered the program permanently.
With other Iraqi universities understandably requesting his assistance,
the program has simply become too large for him to arrange. But he
needs help, and more books to send.
As depressing as it was to
learn of the suspension of the Books for Baghdad program, it would be
just as uplifting to hear that someone with the money and the spirit —
private donors, corporations, national humanitarian groups, publishers,
the State Department — had provided Al-Hamdani with the support he
needs to restart the program as a gesture of goodwill in a relationship
sorely needing it.
In both cases, at Anniston High and Baghdad
University, books are in short supply. How’s one to get a proper
education without them?
See editorial at The Anniston Star's website: www.annistonstar.com