Beauty in the Beastliness of War

Magic. Refugee camp. Poetry. Youth. A library.

What?! A library for refugees in a refugee camp? Poetry and writing workshops in that library? What's going on here? Backstory coming up.

Amjad's life crashed in the early days of the Syrian conflict. Violence. Hatred. Deep emotional wounds in a 20-something young man. Escape to a refugee camp. "I didn't know what a refugee was. I was a university student, not a refugee – whatever that was."

"When I came to the camp I felt that my spirit was being broken – just like so many youth around me. We felt we were living in intellectual stagnation – in limbo. This made all of us vulnerable to any other idea presented to us. I thought, there has to be an end to this falling apart and this limbo."

Writing was the medicine that began his healing. "I found new strength in myself and for others."

Amjad (on the left) with fellow mentor Mohammad

He sat and wrote day after day as a survivor in the camp, to explore in his soul who a new Amjad could become in the devastation of all he had known. He became a mentor through Questscope. He experienced how he could gently guide younger Syrians along the same healing path.

Amjad is a leader, a driver. Unstoppable. Questscope provided leadership space for his gifts and energy. To expand the circle of healing, he put together a library in a prefab caravan (like a house trailer), stuffed shelves with books, and put in tables for literary discussions with "young" people from preteens to those 45-and-counting. (There is a computer in there, too!)

He even spreads the sparks by lending books to read at home. 250 youth circulate daily around his library in the Questscope space in Za'atari camp. Amjad is known now as "the poet of Za'atari."

The Youth Center Library

Imagine! Poet. Poetry. Emotional healing. Mentoring to build hope again. Beauty in the beastliness of war.

His magic? "It is my humanitarian and social duty towards youth – to ignite in them candles of hope during this long night of war."

And that is amazing. Magic. Poetry in a library in a refugee camp. Awesome.


Read more about Amjad here in news by Between Borders as he talks about connections among trauma, poetry, and healing.