Rickshaw Mobile Library

Alif Laila Rickshaw Library: Bringing Books to Life

Welcome to the Alif Laila Rickshaw Library, where stories come to life and imagination knows no bounds.

About Us

I am the Alif Laila Rickshaw Library, a mobile library that visits children in schools and communities, bringing books, puzzles, and games for them to read and enjoy. Pakistan’s children need books to help them build bridges with different cultures and communities, to laugh and enjoy, and to develop their critical and creative faculties. I am proud to serve our nation by bringing books to children who would otherwise have none.

Our Mission

Before COVID-19, I visited multiple communities in Lahore, providing varied learning opportunities to the children. They learned about the world around them, discussed ways to better their environment, and improved their vocabulary and language skills. My friend, the Librarian, who reads stories to these children, has observed significant growth in their imagination and empathy.

Impact and Success Stories

Even during the reading capability test, which the Librarian conducted twice (once at the end of December and then in early March), we saw a marked improvement in the children’s reading levels. For younger children aged six and below, storytelling and visual books were more effective, while children aged seven and above showed improvement from letter to word level and a few from word to sentence level within three months.

One of our cherished moments was when a child from Kabutarpura said, “My parents do not take me to any recreational place as my father returns late from work and has no time and money to take us out. But this Rickshaw Library coming to our house is my favorite fun activity, and we don’t have to pay for reading the books and doing fun activities around them.”

Our mobile librarian has also noticed that these visits have sparked social and communication skills, making children more friendly and cohesive. They ask more questions about the stories and discuss their own ideas about the world, which has invigorated their reading experience.

Girls, in particular, have benefited from our visits. Often unable to go far from home without their elders or required to help with household chores, the Rickshaw Library offers them a unique opportunity to learn and explore. One girl from the FCC colony said, “I wait for this Rickshaw to come every day all week as this just comes outside my house, and I can easily come to it, learn to read new books, and do fun activities with the stories like role play and prop making. If it wasn’t coming to my house, I would have never gotten the permission to visit it and get the chance to see such interesting books with so many stories and colors in it. This is my favorite thing to do, and I get very sad when it rains and the visit is delayed.”

Resilience During COVID-19

When COVID-19 became a global pandemic, I was particularly saddened by the lockdown. I felt lonely and wanted to be out and about but realized it was not safe. Once the virus’s hold lessened, I continued the distribution of IBBY book box libraries, particularly to the affected communities where I had been visiting earlier. I encouraged children to keep and exchange books with friends in their neighborhood after giving them a thorough cleaning. This was made possible due to large book donations from Hoopoe Books and Big Bad Boo, to whom we are deeply grateful.

After the easing of the lockdown, I resumed visiting the communities, following standard operating procedures and safety measures. I also initiated a handwashing awareness campaign, discussing its importance, especially during the pandemic, alongside my friend the Librarian, who emphasized tips on fighting the virus.

Spreading the Legacy

Our efforts have inspired others to replicate the Rickshaw Library model:

  1. Bunyaad started a Rickshaw Library in Karachi.
  2. Idara Taleem o Agahi launched their own Rickshaw Library.
  3. Kitab Dost initiated a Rickshaw Library in Peshawar, KP.

We are thrilled to see the impact of our work spreading across the country, bringing the joy of reading to even more children.

Join Us

Our regular community visits provide hope and happiness to the children. They eagerly wait for our arrival, finish their tasks, and get ready hours before our visit. In one of the communities, children eagerly issue and return books weekly, sharing reviews with the mobile librarian.

Many of these children either do not attend school or go to government schools where such activities are not practiced, and they do not get to see such a variety of books and activities designed around them.

We invite you to join us in our mission to bring books and learning opportunities to children across Pakistan. Together, we can make a difference.

About the Author

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