“I’m so happy. I’m going back to study with the books I love,” says Arezzo Dear, an 11-year-old girl holding a math book in her arms.
Children read books in a mobile library in Kabul that opened its doors for the first time since the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan – Photo: Ahmad Sahel Arman/AFP
“The library hasn’t been here for three months,” explains the girl, sitting inside the bus that has been converted into a library, trying to make her voice heard amid the bustle of her classmates.
The mobile library is one of five buses rented by a local organization called Charmags, created by Frishta Karim, an Afghani from Britain’s Oxford University.
Hundreds of children in recent years have used the libraries in Kabul every dayBecause many schools and orphanages do not have their own library and have few resources.
“We lost almost all the sponsors after the Taliban took over the government,” explains Ahmed Fahim Barakati, vice president of the nonprofit organization.
The Taliban’s Ministry of Education granted permission to trade mobile libraries again weeks ago, but it took days to reach an agreement with the bus-owning Ministry of Transport, according to Barakati.
Like children, librarian Ramzia Abdi, 22, is happy that the units are back.
“It’s a nice feeling,” he recalls. “Even because so many schools are closed right now.”
Girls’ education has been particularly affected by the Taliban’s return to power Millions of girls across the country have been marginalized from high school into public schools.
Immediately, Only a part of the girls in the country can attend classes, provided that they are not mixed classes, a situation that raised international concern and criticism.
The Taliban say they first want to ensure “safe” conditions for girls to be able to return to school.
“We have street children and I love taking care of them because they don’t get the chance to go to school. We have Islamic books, we have history books in English and Dari, coloring books and games,” says Gill.
Sharmags has enough funds to run mobile libraries for about a month, according to Barakati.
“We’re raising money via online platforms and hopefully we’ll have enough sponsors and donors” to keep them going after that time, he said.
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