By Shannon Steinkamp
The children who live in the Afghan capital of Kabul excitedly board the blue bus whenever they get a chance. It’s not an ice cream truck or a vehicle packed with sweets -- it’s a library on wheels, a first for this city.
The bus is filled with children’s books and has stools for visitors while they’re reading. It visits the neighborhoods in Kabul every day and stops in each area for a few hours.
A 25 year old graduate from the University of Oxford is the mastermind behind this bus of knowledge. Freshta Karim didn’t have the opportunity to read and increase her intellect as a child, and she desperately wants to provide this opportunity to the children in Kabul.
The bus came from the expansion of a reading club she held in her home. She knew she could help provide the opportunity to read to hundreds of kids, maybe more.
“I don’t know how many of us can really forget the pain that the war has given us. Maybe children are too young to think about it, but I still feel that they realize it,” she said. “I hope a program like this can give them an opportunity to forget those things.”
After only two weeks, the children in the area are quite fond of the bus.
“We were not expecting so much love from the people and such acceptance, I am so amazed,” she said.
According to Karim, few people in her generation remember making a trip to a library. This was one of the many things the war deprived them of.
Save the Children reports that a third of Afghan children cannot attend school. This puts them at higher risk to fall victim to forms of exploitation, like recruitment by armed groups and early marriage.
Even if a child has the ability to go to school, it’s not easy.
“Many schools even don’t have buildings,” Karim said. “Talking about a library is a luxury.”
All of items used in the rolling library were donated by various groups or individuals. The bus decorated with colorful paintings was donated by a transportation ministry. The hundreds of book were given by organizations or individuals. The fuel to keep the bus running every day is even donated. In this war ravaged country, people are coming together to provide for each other.