In the Human Library you can rent people who have been through difficult times – and they will tell you all about it. Itâ€™s a way of debunking the stereotypes that have spread around Great Britain.
They are each sitting at a round table and wearing yellow silk sashes with â€œbookâ€ written across. A dozen people have volunteered to become part of this human library set up in the London headquarters of an NGO called Crisis. They have all been through hard times. Some took drugs; others lived in the street or suffered from mental illnesses. They have put themselves at the publicâ€™s disposal and can be â€œborrowedâ€ for half an hour, enough time to learn a little about their experience.
â€œI was agoraphobic,â€ says Teresa, a shy redhead with green eyes. â€œAt times, I couldnâ€™t leave the house for 12 weeks.â€ Why is she participating in this project? â€œTo show that there is a face behind the illness and to dispel the stereotypes about it, since its often perceived as a form of laziness.â€
Other â€œbooksâ€ include Mafruha, a Bangladeshi refugee and poet; Joirute, a Lithuanian with a handicapped daughter; or Rafeik, a homeless drug-addict. On the wall, a board sums up their life story and indicates who is â€œavailableâ€ and who is â€œtaken.â€