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The second ‘season’ of Bahrain’s avant-garde public social reading space, The People, kicked off last weekend, with a literary treasure hunt at their new location.
Approximately 60 individuals of all ages took part in the treasure hunt at the Marassi Beach in Muharraq last Friday and also got their first look at the group’s new location.
“Our team planned a lively course with riddles, maps, and a scavenger hunt whilst ensuring that it is suitable for all ages along with English or Arabic speakers,” Noor Benshams, co-founder of The People, told GulfWeekly.
“About 60 people participated, including children, families, and even adults along with their friends.
“Since most clues directed them back to The People headquarters, volunteers knew who were taking part and could track their progress. On an average, the hunt took 30-45 minutes to complete.
“The last clue asked participants to combine all hints to reveal a valuable message from our team to the community: ‘A Reader Lives a Thousand Adventures.’ We hope our Beach Treasure Hunt showed them just that!”
Every person and group that completed the challenge received shirts from local clothing brand TGC, as well as coupons from local restaurants Burger Zone, Sharminator, and Pink Parrot.
Bahraini book-lovers Nejoud Alsharqawi and Noor had started ‘The People’, a community initiative encouraging people of all ages to start reading, at the beginning of this year.
They received an overwhelming response, both in terms of community feedback and volunteer participation. The first season featured a number of events organised by the initiative’s volunteers, including sign language workshops, debates, music nights, author talks and poetry readings.
After their first ‘season’, from January to March at the Water Garden City in Seef, they kicked off their second season at the new location in the Diyar Al Muharraq development.
“From our first season, we learned quite a few crucial lessons about leading volunteers, building teams and making decisions,” added Nejoud.
“Going into this season, we have restructured our team, provided the committees with autonomy to make decisions, improved our budgeting strategy and asked for advice from librarians on the best methods to organise our wide collection of books.
“The biggest lesson would have to be the realisation that our community is in fact willing and interested to give without receiving anything in return ... whether it is the hundreds of books donated, professionals openly sharing their expertise, or even the dedicated hours given by volunteers.
“It’s a great feeling knowing that we are not alone and this season, we are already seeing that generosity and spirit!”
While their first location focused on outdoor reading spaces, their new premises has both indoor and outdoor reading areas and expanded book shelving space.
This has given them room to showcase their entire collection – currently more than 500 books – and plan different types of events for the new season.
“We are bringing back some community favourites – kids’ storytelling and sign language courses – along with new concepts such as self-defence workshops, kids’ water safety lessons and tips from published writers,” explained Noor.
“Of course, marketing a new location has its challenges but after a few brainstorming sessions with the team, we have a long and exciting list of potential events planned.”
Noor and Nejoud plan to run the second season for another three months, giving the community a scenic beachside setting to enjoy books and interact with the country’s burgeoning literary community.
For details, follow @thepeople.bh on Instagram.