Asia West Pacific

Peace Libraries During the Pandemic

By Ratih Puspito

Hanif is reading a book. Photo by Ratih.

The first case of Covid-19 in Indonesia was confirmed in March 2020. After a few moments, a regulation was issued to close schools and public places to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. We decided to temporarily close the library.

We recognize how much this pandemic is changing our social lives. The children did not go to school, stayed at home all day long, and were no longer able to play with friends. Isn’t that very stressful? So, in June we ventured to open the library by adopting health protocols; physical distancing, wearing a mask, and washing hands with soap. We open for one hour in a week just for borrowing and returning books. We hope the books can be their friends while staying at home. Our activities for story reading and Power of Goodness have not started, but the Agreements are on the door and we practice the tools of peace in our everyday lives and conversations.

Parent and his kid. 

Susi and her siblings. 

“Staying at home and not going to school was very boring. Since the library is open, we can meet friends to relieve stress. In addition, I can borrow books, play blocks, read books, draw pictures, and make crafts. Even though it was very brief, I really liked it.”

Sutar, Hanif’s Grandfather
“Alhamdulillah, Thanks be to God, I prefer Hanif to come to the library than to wander around. I always allow Hanif to go to the library because there are facilitators who are accompanying the children with positive activities. “

“In the library it can make me happy so I don’t get bored at home. What I don’t like is that the visitors mostly are small children. But, I really want to read books, I don’t mind going to the library even though it’s full of kids.” 

Rami, Rafi and Rafa’s mother
“I saw the children in the village become more enthusiastic about reading, so there is more knowledge and good lessons for them. Like my son, Rafi. When he reads, he does not want to stop and becomes immersed in his book. When I called him to do something else, he refused to stop before he finished reading the book.”

Hanif is choosing a book.

Playing with blocks.

Hanif, Yovie, and Safa are drawing core self

Agreements (Posted on the Door)
  • Affirm self and others; no put downs or put ups.
  • Stop, listen, don’t interrupt.
  • Speak simply and honestly, without fear of mistakes.
  • Speak one’s own experience, not others’ without permission.
  • Make friends not enemies with people similar to and different from yourself.
  • Ask for and offer hospitality, feedback, and assistance.
  • Tend to emotion, then speak directly if in dispute.
  • Use what’s needed and share the rest fairly.
  • Use your rights to pass and to ask for consultation.
  • Volunteer yourself only, not others.
  • Care for each person, the group, the community, and the natural world.
  • Live in integrity with life’s transforming power.