Books to accompany you along the road
BoiBondhu started out in 2018 with an objective to promote reading. The organisation has built small libraries inside buses and hospitals, among other public places.
"People spend a good chunk of their time just sitting in public buses," says Mohiuddin Toha, Founder and Chief Coordinator of BoiBondhu. "We thought they could use this time productively by reading a book."
He founded BoiBondhu along with his friends Rashib Ahmed, Mahmudul Hasan Tuhin, and Eraz Imran.
"We started out with a box of 40 different books for a VIP 27 bus," he shares. "We took a loan to build seven more boxes, and have them installed inside other buses."
BoiBondhu was initiated with 100 books from private collections, which has now expanded to thousands of books stored in libraries in various buses and hospitals.
The organisation now has a library at Infertility Care and Research Centre in Mohammadpur, and another one in Kamlapur for the transgender community. They recently were permitted to build libraries at train stations as well, and are in talks with the naval authorities to set up libraries inside ships.
BoiBondhu is currently active in Panchagarh, Brahmanbaria, Chattogram, Sylhet, and Dhaka, with over 300 volunteers.
They also organise a book festival annually, where readers can exchange their old books with new ones. BoiBondhu displays close to 5,000 books at the festival. "We have already exchanged over 15,000 books. This is inspiring, as many underprivileged kids come by for the books," says Mohiuddin.
Till now, the founder and his friends have been bearing the costs for these activities from their own pockets.
Furthermore, BoiBondhu intends to set up route libraries in rural parts of Bangladesh for readers in remote villages. "Our volunteers who live in remote areas will be managing the books in these libraries," shares Mohiuddin.
Books will be placed on both sides of a route for locals, who can take any book at home for seven days to read.
"We have also set up BoiBondhu Shoshikhar Pathshala in villages, in which experts from various fields hold classes and share their experiences. We have already conducted six classes in different villages," concludes Mohiuddin.
The author is a freelance journalist. Email: [email protected]