Living Library Barcelona

Living Library Barcelona

The Living Library Event

AHEAD Association implemented two Living Library events: a first one on Saturday the 1st June and a second one the 15th June 2019 coinciding with the events celebrating the World Refugee Week in Barcelona.

Both Living Library events took part in the old town of Barcelona, in Raval neighbourhood, in a medieval cloister and current open gardens of the National Library of Catalonia. The venue, with trees and an ornamental fountain created a relaxing atmosphere where Human Books and readers could interact and concentrate in their dialogues.

Prior the Living Library events, 13 preparatory meetings and workshops took place with the local coordination team, librarians, the Human Books and the logistical team – separately by these groups and altogether. The local partners of the multiplier events were: The National Library of Catalonia, the Municipality of Barcelona, the Federation of organisations for Global Justice, The Library of Raval and Journalistic Advisory Service.

The Local team was formed by 34 persons that supported the event as librarians, facilitators, human books and translators. The implementation of two events in the public space brought over 200 readers to the Living Libraries. The evaluation of the results underlines the success in terms of deconstructing stereotypes and prejudices towards migrants and refugees, and the relevance of the living library methodology to reach a broad public.


The main impact of the project was a great opportunity to train AHEAD’s team of youth workers on inclusion of young migrants and refugees.

The training activity and the development of the multiplier events motivated and supported the local team in the preparation, implementation and evaluation of the Living libraries in the public space in Barcelona.

As a result a coordination team has been created formed by youth workers both locals and of refugee and migrant background.

The team was responsible of training the different actors involved in the two living library events that were implemented in Barcelona. As a result the project continues with the title Biblioteca Vivent de la Ciutat Refugi (Living Library of the Shelter City)

The project allowed for a long term inclusion process of young refugees and migrants that had been living in Barcelona for few months at the time of the course.

Young migrants and refugees from Equador, Ghana, Western Sahara, Syria, Morocco, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Russia, Lithuania, Colombia, Perú participated in the preparation, implementation and evaluation of the project.

The process included a series of workshops organised on Wednesdays afternoon and Saturdays morning along a period of three month on issues linked to identity, sense of belonging, inclusion, participation and living library methodology.

The workshops were run in English, but as well in Spanish and Catalan languages as part of the inclusion process.

As a result of the project, a local catalogue of human books have been created, a team has been trained and several of them are now the core of the Coordination Team that will support the further development of the project beyond the European project.

Beyond the organisation’s development and the synergies created with the local stakeholders the impact of the project had a direct impact al local level. The implementation of two living library events brought over 200 readers to the events. The desired impact over this public was therefore reached. An evaluation questionnaire was distributed to the readers after the events and the results underline the success in terms of deconstructing stereotypes and prejudices towards migrants and refugees that the methodology brought to the broad public.

The Catalogue

Focus on your dream - ISAAC

After leaving his homeland to pursue a long journey toward Europe and after having survived kidnapping, slave trade and homelessness, this Book found in Barcelona a place where he wants to fight for his dreams and send out a message on the importance of never giving up.

You will never know about me - ZAKARIA

“Unless you dare to listen to my story, you will never know about me”. This Human Book left his home country following the promise of what the TV and the media and everyone around told him about Europe: the promise of a better future.

After giving up his previous life in the pursuit of that promise, he could only see in disbelief to what extent the picture looks different once you get closer to it. One day, this book would like to reach out to the youth in his country to make them aware of the reality he had to face.

The welcoming key - MAYYAR

How does a refugee feel in Barcelona? Are all refugees the same? This book tells us about his process of inclusion from his arrival as a refugee from Syria to the reception and cohabitation with a Catalan family in Barcelona.

No friends in Barcelona - YUSSIF

The son of an extended family in Ghana, growing in the countryside and uneducated, he was a former offender in the city streets. He was inspired by the TV to move to Europe, he travelled through Morocco to Spain.

An activist and feminist moor - KARIM

The following Human Books were there in Barcelona Living Library:

My struggle for the defense of human rights began in Morocco, during my university stage. I’ve been part of a multiple activist’s movements and associations and I have staged countless protests and demonstrations to demand the rights of workers, migrants and women’s rights. Even today, I’m still fighting against racism and xenophobia here in Barcelona.

We welcomed- IGNASI

This Book tells the exciting story of the process of becoming hosts by the regular Catalan family, – from awareness rising to decision making and co-living together.

Adventures worth a seizure - GUDRITA

This Human Book lives a life full of travelling despite having a  chronic disease. The book is equipped with two citizenships, a Nordic character, and has recently found in Catalonia a new home.

Half a life in Catalonia, yet not entitled to being Catalan – LEHBIB.

After twelve years living in Catalonia, that has not proven to be enough for Lehbib to be considered a Catalan in his own right.

The Aliens Law has condemned him to a daily struggle against marginalisation and discrimination, by regarding him as an immigrant above anything else.

Illiterate and deported from Sweden - SIISU

Its not easy to adapt to a new country, – need to be very strong. Travelling through Sahara to Libya. Learning writing, once in Spain. No papers -No Europe. Travelling around Europe.

A plate on the table – RODRIGO

A year ago this young Nicaraguan left his home. While still waiting for his asylum interview to take place, he continues to affirm his life amidst the contrasts of Barcelona and faced with an uncertain future. What once was a cultural shock, the ritual of sharing food around a table at specific hours of the day, is now a symbol of welcome and a comforting memory of the early stage alongside his foster family.

Lies about reality - TAOUFIK

At age sixteen, he left his home and country in search of a life opportunity that wasn’t real. He arrived to Spain and felt everyone had lied to him. Now, the effort and struggle are a constant in his every day.

More accepted in Catalonia than in my own Country- LIDA

She came from the former soviet country and belongs to a linguistic minority. How she is identified in her society if different from how it is here, in Catalonia.

As a local - ANDREA

The experience of a young Peruvian married with a local that has blended with the hosting community. What is her perception on inclusion and how she deals with identity and senses of belonging.

I just want to sleep - SOUFIANE

Two parallel stories that coincide in a reception center. On one side, a unaccompanied minor and, on the other, a social care worker who, in a crucial moment of their stories, just needed a place to sleep.

We welcomed- NATALIA

This Book tells the exciting story of the process of becoming hosts by the regular Catalan family, – from awareness rising to decision making and co-living together.

Son of the clouds - MOULUD

Born in 1977 to a nomad family who were forced to flee their land from the armed conflict of Western Sahara towards the refugee camps in Algeria, where they live nowadays in the middle of the desert. He has lived in many different countries, from Cuba, through South Africa, all the way to Barcelona, where he currently lives. This is a
story that stems from art and culture of peace as tools for social transformation.

Unpaid work - TATIANA

This Book arrived to Barcelona from Israel to study a postgraduate course and to find a job opportunity in accordance with her academic background. However, due to the lack of legal documents, discrimination and sexualisation, she found herself forced to take up precarious jobs.

Looking for husband? - ENA

Inclusion is often hard is middle size cities where the difference is perceived as a threat. The main prejudice associated to a young South-American lady is that in search of a local husband, when everyday struggle is to manage alone as a single mother with a teenage daughter.

Sometimes I feel bad - ABDULHAMID

Sometimes I feel bad when I remember the sacrifice of my friends travelling with me from Ghana that did not survive the trip through the desert and the sea to reach Europe.  But still keeping a positive about new opportunities in a new world.

Pointed Out - GREISY

In my country I was perceived as a “white” in my community and now, once in Europe, I experienced what is to be pointed out as native from America. Changing percepcions and realising how the white privilege works in different communities in Latin America and in Europe.


The project at local level in Barcelona involved several stakeholders:

The Catalan National Library: supported the project with the equipment, the venue and giving visibility and dissemination of the results.

The Journalist Professional Union (Col.legi de Periodistes de Catalunya): Supported the visibility and dissemination of the result through its Service of Counselling service (Servei d’assessorament periodístic)

The Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB): supported the project by proving translation and interpretation through the event by their students of the Interpretation Master. It had a very positive and deep impact on those that have participated in the project.

The Resources Bank (Banc de Recursos de Ciutat Vella) supported the event with equipment and materials

The Federation of NGOs for Global Justice (La supported the project with the venue for the workshops along several months and visibility and dissemination of the results

Diverse Non Gubernamental Organisations working with specific migrant/refugee groups (CEHDA, Sahara d’Empeus, CEA,…) supported the project by involving its members, the impact was very positive for them as the project allowed to meet other migrant communities.

The Barcelona Municipality through its programme BCN Ciutat Refugi. The impact was to gain visibility among the citizenry as well as towards new comers.

Organisation Description

The mission of the Association of Human Rights Educators (AHEAD) is to promote human rights education (HRE) as a requisite to strengthen the commitment towards a culture of peace, democracy, ​and solidarity

AHEAD’s projects directly address youth workers, educators both from the formal and non-formal education sectors, community mediators, social educators and adult learners. AHEAD combines both the local and international dimensions of youth work and therefore implements projects at the local level (from schools to Universities, municipalities to regional authorities) and at international level (Europe, Mediterranean,…).

The objectives of the association are:

  • To consolidate HRE as the framework for raising awareness and educating for citizenship and participation, development, for peace, for sustainability, gender equity and emotional diversity, and intercultural learning; 
  • To provide competences development to young professionals, organisations of civil society – particularly youth organisation – and institutions – especially educational ones; 
  • To develop innovative methodologies and create educational materials in HRE as well as to translate, adapt and disseminate educational materials;
  • To promote the exchange of experiences, networking and defining public policies to transversely  incorporate HRE; 
  • To implement, both locally and globally, social inclusion, solidarity and cooperation for development projects.

AHEAD is member of the Catalan Federation of Human Rights, Peace and Development Organisations (La Fede), the Spanish Network of the Anna Lindh Foundation for dialogue among cultures (ALF) and the European Youth Network of Human Rights youth organisations (HREYN).

The Coordination team

The local Living Library in Barcelona was possible thaks to the engagement of the Coordinators Team,
the Librarians, Facilitators, Interpreters and specially to every and each Human Books with their live stories.


Founder and board member

At international level Xavier collaborates in a regular basis as expert and educational adviser on the development of training programmes for the European Commission, the Education Department and the Youth Department of the Council of Europe, and the Anna Lindh Foundation for the Dialogue among cultures.

Currently, Xavier is working on the Council of Europe Programme: Youth Together that seeks to reduce the risks of social exclusion and violence that young refugees, especially minors in transition to adulthood, are exposed to. It supports the social inclusion of young refugees and their access to education, self-development and autonomy through youth work and non-formal education activities.



Mayyar Skhaita is a social activist from Syria with refugees status. Has been involved in several campaigns raising awareness of the refugee situation in Barcelona and Catalonia where he is living.


Psychologist specialised in Human Rights

In 2014, Laura got involved as activist in Amnesty International and, since then, she has carried out different roles within the organisation. Nowadays, she’s coordinator of an activists’ group, organising and implementing actions and campaigns of awareness to promote and defend Human Rights. Also, she’s responsible for Human Rights Education in her group, taking part on the research and elaboration of the HRE strategy at Catalonian level.

Laura has taken part in several national and international projects and, as well, she has been working as technician at ATENPRO’s program in Red Cross, project related with the attention and protection of gender violence’s victims.

Currently, Laura is running some internationals projects with AHEAD, association of educators in Human Rights from Barcelona, organising and implementing workshops and some public actions, such as Living Libraries.


Activist working on inclusion programmes

Rashid Abubakar Iddrisu is an activist working on inclusion programmes for young migrants from Africa. He develops his work in cooperation projects between Ghana and Catalonia with CEHDA association and the local inclusion work with AHEAD.


Social educator and activist

Clara has also developed projects in Barcelona where she participates in awareness raising, activities about political incidence and field work, all this with the purpose of supporting the Saharawi cause and influencing the perspective of people who do not know it.

Clara has developed a personal project with the objective of developing a documentary about the situation of refugees in Greece, Thessaloniki. Currently Clara is participates in a research project on Saharawi youth located in refugee camps in Algeria.



Matías Adam is a Venezuelan-Catalan educator with a background in Philosophy, Literature and Translation Studies, and a professional career in the non-profit field. He has worked as a translator, refugee support worker, sexual health educator and as the Coordinator of Network.

Matías has organised numerous Living Library events with associations Acathi and AHEAD. As a volunteer, he has served as a Literacy and Spanish as a Foreign Language teacher for migrants. Matías is currently receiving a professional training in Publishing, with the aim of contributing to the creation of space for underrepresented voices in the production of printed and digital culture.