Sep 15, 2020

Rickshaw Mobile Library during the pandemic

Hand Washing Campaign
Hand Washing Campaign

This report outlines project activities which took place during and after the easing of lockdown in the Covid-19 global pandemic. We have had to be adaptable and flexible in our project delivery through innovation and experimentation to ensure children continue to gain considerable social and educational benefits despite closed schools and resulting loss of learning.

Our mobile library was not visiting communities during lockdown when the virus was at its height, to ensure the safety of beneficiaries and project staff. We continued the distribution of IBBY book box libraries during this period all over Pakistan, most specifically the effected communities where our Rickshaw mobile library was visiting earlier. We have distributed books within the communities asking the children to keep them and exchange them with friends within the community after cleaning them. This continues to be highly functional due to large book donations from Hoopoe Books and Big Bad Boo. We remain deeply grateful to both organizations.

Once after easing of the lockdown we started visiting the communities following the standard operating procedures and safety measures. We have also initiated the hand washing awareness campaign in the communities by discussing the importance of it especially during the pandemic. Along with it, we emphasized on awareness campaigns with children for tips on fighting the virus.

We are continuing to grow our literature to reflect the changes in society and help children make sense of the new normal. A book focusing on nature and its beauty is in the pipeline as one way to help children cope and stay positive. We have also designed child friendly posters to help convey health messages on sanitation and hand washing. These were distributed around Lahore and in other cities.

Our COVID mantra in the communities:
Wash your hands
Cover your face
Keep a distance

After lifting of the smart lockdown, we are able to resume our community visits five days a week following the precautions and the children are very excited to have their very own Library wala back in the “mohallas”.


Community visit
Community visit
Mar 27, 2020

Rickshaw Mobile Library visiting communities

Our Rickshaw Library visiting multiple communities in Lahore has provided varied learning opportunities to the children living there.

They learnt about the world around them, talked about ways in which they could better their environment and worked on improving their vocabulary and language skills.

Our Mobile Librarian while reading stories to these children the past few months has noticed a growth in their imagination and empathy. In the last three months, the mobile librarian has taken the reading capability test twice, once in the end of December and then in the beginning of March based on the reading level the child is at, i.e. Letter, Word, Sentence or Paragraph level. For younger children ages six and below, this test didn’t work much as they enjoyed storytelling and visual books more whereas ages seven plus improved from letter to word level and a few from word to sentence level within three months.

The Rickshaw Mobile Library has been visiting 5 communities a week with an average of 25-30 children accessing it each day making it approximately 150 children per week a total of 1800 beneficiaries in the last 3 months.

A feedback from a child in the community that made our hearts glad was; “My parents do not take me to any recreational place as my father returns from work late at night 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 noticed that community visits have also sparked social and communication skills, making children friendlier and more cohesive. Asking more questions about the stories and discussing their own ideas about the world has invigorated their reading experience.

These visits have largely benefitted girls who do not get permission to go far from the house without their elders, or need to stay at home helping with household chores. One girl in the community said to the mobile librarian, “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”.

The regular Rickshaw library’s visits in the communities provide the children living there hope and happiness. They finish all their tasks and get ready hours before the visit waiting for the rickshaw to come to their street.

In one of the communities we visit, the children eagerly issue books and return them weekly with full responsibility, sharing reviews with the mobile librarian of how much they liked the book or could relate to the characters, or how they didn’t enjoy the ending and wished it was something else etc.

The community children are either out of school or going to Govt. 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 hope to continue the “Rickshaw Wala” visiting yet more community children, and brightening their days and giving them exposure to the world.

As we all know:
“The more you read,
the more things you will know.
The more that you learn
the more places you will go.”

Dec 19, 2019

Rickshaw Mobile Library visiting children

Reading is a trait essential for any society to progress and develop.

Our unique Rickshaw mobile library has been going to communities and low functioning schools since July 2019 when it was launched after receipt of a grant from the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan. GlobalGiving gave us the opportunity to raise funds when ours were at an ebb and hence the project gained momentum.

Alif Laila’s history with rickshaws goes back to 2010 when we started using them in a campaign to promote reading in Pakistan. We ran simultaneous ads for reading and taking books on rickshaws to communities where the lanes were tight and not accessible to our larger mobile library.

We used rickshaws to create excitement about reading both at the launch of our Living Library in Sheikhupura in 2013 and at the Children’s Literature Festival in Lahore in 2015.

The rickshaws we used previously had to be rented and hence could only be called in at specific times.

Since having our own, we have been busy going to schools, and communities in the mornings and evenings as well.

The Rickshaw library has been greatly appreciated by adults and children both as it takes its cheeriness to schools and communities. Children flock to it and adults come too, excited by the novelty! Just last week we had students come in from a University. They want to make the library their CSR project and go with it to communities.

Another institute called Amal Acedemy that works with young people has also shown interest in our Rickshaw Library and sent their representatives to take the rickshaw to certain communities and share the books and idea of a mobile library with young girls and mothers.

Since funds from GlobalGiving were received two months ago the Rickshaw Library has been visiting 5 communities a week in the afternoon and 5 low functioning schools in the morning. Needless to say the children simply love it!

Some of their wishes and comments:

“ We hope this bright little library will come to visit us regularly. We wait for it to bring books we can read and enter a new world we never knew before.... the world of imagination”!

The rickshaw excites children because it provides them a different experience altogether. They can sit in the cozy space and pick out books to read!!

They get excited by the sound of it entering their narrow streets and start running towards it with sheer joy.

In my childhood, I had the "Äkhbar-wala" (Newspaper Man), "Icecream wala" visiting our community but the "library woman" coming with a lot of colorful books easily accessible for a child to read was a dream I never dreamt!! The Alif Laila Book Bus Society has made this a reality.

Though I was a book lover as a child, I knew no library for children. I used to buy books or hunt for something to read in my parents’ collection.

I think a children's library is essential because it opens doors for all children and invites them to travel far in understanding life and the world they live in.

I can surely see the difference in the elders who weren't readers in childhood over ones who were... And it makes a huge difference in us as humans and how we perceive life.

This project is reaching out to the children who cannot afford a library membership or even buy an old book. It is encouraging them to be inquisitive and learn life skills from stories; of how to be better human beings, to know about the world and much more!

We hope this vibrant project goes from strength to strength and reaches all the beautiful children of Pakistan who also wait for the Rickshaw Wala to come with a magical world of books...... all for them.

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