Saturday, February 23, 2013

Mommy, the camel bookmobile is here!

"Run and get a book, honey, but don't let the camel step on you."

Remember hearing those words from your mom when you were growing up? No?

I guess you didn't live in Garissa, Kenya, when you were a kid.

It's an isolated place in Kenya's isolated northeastern province, near the dangerous border with Somalia.

In 1996 a persistently dedicated gentleman named Mr. Farah sought book donations from around the world, set himself up with three camels, and started hauling books to poor, semi-nomadic people who lived too far away from any library, anywhere.

An unknown sponsor wrote this description when the book-by-dromedary service was in full swing:

"The library now uses 12 camels traveling to four settlements per day, four days per week….The books are spread out on grass mats beneath an acacia tree, and the library patrons, often barefoot, sometimes joined by goats or donkeys, gather with great excitement to choose their books until the next visit."

Here's the only website I could find about the camel bookmobile:

I don't know if this unique service, this feelgood eruption of civilization, is still active—the last online evidence I could find is dated 2008.

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