Mobile libraries restart for the first time in Kabul since Taliban takeover

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By Euronews  with AFP
In this photograph taken on April 4, 2018, Afghan children board a mobile library bus in Kabul.
In this photograph taken on April 4, 2018, Afghan children board a mobile library bus in Kabul.   -   Copyright  SHAH MARAI / AFP

A mobile library bus went to a Kabul orphanage on Sunday and opened its doors for the first time since the Taliban took over the country, eliciting smiles from young book lovers.

The mobile library is one of five school buses set up by a local organisation called Charmaghz, established by Afghan Oxford University graduate Freshta Karim.

In recent years, hundreds of children used the mobile libraries daily as they crisscrossed the Afghan capital, as many schools lack their own library in Afghanistan.

However, the mobile libraries lost "almost all of our sponsors after the government was taken over by the Taliban in mid-August," said Ahmad Fahim Barakati, deputy head of the non-profit initiative.

"Charmaghz has enough funds at present to keep the mobile libraries on the road for a month or so, but we are raising funds through online platforms and globally. I hope we will have enough sponsors and donators to keep going beyond then," Barakati added.

The Taliban's education ministry granted permission for the mobile libraries to restart after a three-month break, but it was only a few days ago that an agreement was reached with the transport ministry that owns the buses.

Girls' education has been hit particularly hard by the Taliban's return to power, as millions of girls across the country have been barred from secondary education in state schools.

As a result, the future of their education could rely heavily on services like these.

"I'm really happy to be studying the books I love again," says 11-year-old Arezo Azizi, whose favourite tome is a counting aid about a cat who gets more pieces of cheese the higher it can count.

Like the children, librarian Ramzia Abdi Khail, 22, is visibly happy that the show is back on the road.

"It's a lovely feeling. Currently, the schools are also closed," she noted.

From painting books to English and Dari storybooks, the mobile library gives a chance to children who do not have the opportunity to go to school to learn new things.