In a country totally devastated by 9 years of war, hardly anyone would want to save a library while defending last inch of their territory from Pro-Assad Forces.
Syria, now into its ninth year of civil war has witnessed 191,369 deaths (Data till 2014) and 10.9 million Syrians, or almost half the population, has been displaced or migrated.
Syria, since yester years has played an important role in growth of Islam.
It is believed that Syria once had a population of highly qualified poets, authors and publishers.
Not only did these books travel to other places in the kingdom but also laid a strong foundation for Islamic scholarship in Syria.
Towns like Aleppo, Darayya, Damascus, and Duma all contributed to the scholarly growth.
Post 2011 uprising, these cities have lost their historical tag and have become active war zones.
Every day Syrians are fighting wars on many fronts.
An average Syrian is fighting Pro-Assad forces’ Airstrikes backed by Russia, leading the charge against Islamic State in pockets of the country, struggling for infrastructure in hospitals and homes amid trying to preserve traditional knowledge stored in books and articles.
However, who reads a book when he/she has to defend a land and people?
People in Damascus suburb, Darayya have found a way to live through the war by reading one book at a time.
Library under bombs
It is a routine for Ahmed now to cross the road from a rubble of building, his so-called home to a fleet of stairs right across leading to an underground library.
This library houses 40,000 books ranging from medicine to engineering and various other topics that a person can imagine.
The books stored in the library are the books saved from the rubbles of fallen buildings.
While self-help groups save other people, Ahmed and his friends collect the books and donate it to this library
Books in Arabic and English have become a go to source for those who want to continue their studies amid falling bombs.
Ahmed, 21 years old is studying medicine to become a doctor and to serve in the nearby hospital.
Hospital in his town is not well equipped, faces shortage of staff and is under constant radar of fighter jets.
Whenever, there is an emergency or someone in the town has to be surgically treated doctors run down to this library to gain knowledge about the treatment.
Despite being separated by war and exile, the men try to reunite to reminisce on the past and tell the story of their library, one that carries a message of hope and survival.
Volunteers of White Helmet group, spend their time in understanding how to save lives from rubbles.
A widespread share of thoughts, opinions and heroic events are shared in the library.
Library serves as place of reunion, smiles, laughter and thoughts on everyday airstrikes.
Books on War Front
Ahmed has joined Free Syrian Army, to save his town from President Assad’s forces.
He carries all the books from the library that he could read while keeping an eye out to Syrian Army’s snippers and aircrafts.
He along with his other friends study medicine while serving on warfront.
This helps them carry on with their studies while holding a gun in one hand and book in another.
Once a book is finished, it is shared between friends and ideas of the book are discussed upon.
Pro-Assad forces in last few months have made gains in the entire country.
Idlib, the last standing province has also seen sharp increase in airstrikes as it remains last stronghold of the FSA.
Ahmed and his friends were last seen laughing on a joke made in the book and relating it with their lives.
Shortly, after which they were the target of a Pro-Assad fighter jet.
Ahmed and his medicine friends group couldn’t last long to become doctors and save others in the town.
While those who survived may soon be turning the last page of their city, the books, the library and their lives.