Bright Star Mobile Library: Fostering Peace and Tolerance through Reading in Pakistan

By Cody Minnich, Give2Asia Programs Intern

When I was a kid, I spent the majority of my summers hidden away inside the local public library intent on conquering my school’s summer reading list. My time devoted to reading in the library exposed me to new concepts and cultures, expanded my vocabulary, and improved my ability to understand complex ideas. Most importantly, reading allowed me to absorb the knowledge and experiences of others, cultivating the ability to empathize in a deeper and more meaningful way. Reading is crucial to early childhood development, but access to a library full of books is a luxury not every community gets to enjoy.

In the Bhara Kahu and Nilore communities of Pakistan’s Islamabad Capital Territory, one organization is working tirelessly to remedy this lack of access to books. Every week since its inception in 2009, Bright Star Mobile Library has been delivering books to 20 schools in the rural outskirts of Islamabad, providing nearly 5,000 students the opportunity to read.

Bright Star Mobile Library needs your help to build their first brick-and-mortar library outside of Islamabad in order to give thousands of children access to books year-round. Click here to contribute!

Schools in this area do not offer library facilities and the majority of the students come from low-income families who have never had access to library books. Bright Star Mobile Library reaches students during the critical first five years of school by introducing them to the world of books and helping them develop a lifelong love of reading. The books selected for the young readers are specially chosen to entertain them, inform them, spark their interest, and capture their imagination. As the children learn about the diversity of cultures and beliefs around the world, they develop the capacity to empathize with people that are different from them.

Bright Star Mobile Library provides an invaluable service to these communities, but their operations are not without constraints. One of the challenges is that their services are interrupted during school holidays, which total almost five months out of the year. An even greater issue is that Bright Star is only able to serve primary schools, so when students move on to the 6th grade, they no longer have access to the mobile libraries. Although Bright Star would like to provide services to more schools, their operations are stretched to the limits of their capacity with available resources and requests from new schools for their services cannot be accommodated.

Bright Star Mobile Library has a plan to combat these constraints, which keep thousands of children without access to books for almost half of each year: build a permanent brick-and-mortar location. Building a permanent library would not only allow for consistent access for the students, it would open up Bright Star to all youth in the area, regardless of the school they attend. The permanent library would also be inclusive to those not currently attending school, bringing the world of reading to young people who would never have exposure otherwise. Increasing literacy amongst this vulnerable population and providing them a safe space to learn will open up a world of new opportunities. The impact of Bright Star would grow exponentially with the construction of a permanent location and their vision to foster peace and tolerance would be further realized.

A generous Give2Asia donor has committed to a $50,000 grant to Bright Star Mobile Library, contingent on the organization raising the remaining $35,000 needed to purchase the land to build the permanent library. Your contribution will nearly be tripled if this milestone can be reached!

If you wish to help Bright Star Mobile Library establish their first permanent library location, visit Give2Asia’s donation site here. Your contribution will support the gift of reading for generations of young people in Pakistan!