Roshan isn’t an ordinary camel, he is a camel with a mission. The camel serves the unique purpose of taking education to the poorest of children in Pakistan’s Balochistan. The camel travels the dry and arid terrains of this part of Pakistan carrying what can be termed as the most unique kind of cargo.The cargo that Roshan carries for kilometres on his back, consists of books. The camel traverses everyday to unique locations in the vicinity to the delight of little children, whose hope and happiness have now come to be tied with the camel. The moment the children see the camel arriving, they begin to shout “The camel is here!! The camel is here!”. The children show an unprecedented excitement and begin to dance in celebration as they display delight while surrounding Roshan. Roshan then, isn’t just an ordinary camel, he stands for a dream towards education as he brings along a library, on his arrival to the villages of Balochistan.
Balochistan is Pakistan’s poorest province having the worst literacy rates. Most children in the province have never gone to school.It is in these grim pandemic times that Roshan, the camel brings alive hope and positivity.!It was in March 2020, at a time when the pandemic began to take a heavy toll on the country and schools began to experience a closure that like most parts of the world, Pakistan too began to see its students losing a connection with education.
It was to answer the unique void generated by the pandmeic that Raheema Jalal, principal of Zubeda Jalal Girls High School founded the Camel Library project with her sister, a federal minister to take books to children in one of Pakistan’s poorest regions. One of her main motives behind starting the library was to ensure that children continue to pursue their education despite a closure of schools across the nation. The project has been started in collaboration with the Female Education Trust and Alif Laila Book Bus Society,both being organisations running children’s library projects in the country for over three decades.
Roshan, the camel is committed to his vision and he is given the duty of taking the set of colourful books across four different villages in a way that each of the villages gets its due turn and children there get the time to make the most out of their reading time.
The camel library operates for two to three hours on each of the days, from around 3-6pm. The children who are attracted in large numbers to the camel library borrow books and return them the next time the camel comes back, after getting sufficient time to read them.
The founders of the library hope to expand the project and impact more children in the coming months.
Murad Ali, is the owner of the camel and feels happy that his camel has been put to such noble use. He enjoys the trips and feels delighted that he has been made part of a project dedicated to poor children and the aim is their education. From carrying firewood to carrying wood, he has come a long way with his friend Roshan!