The organization Community Learning International (CLI) has two library boats with the help of which they visit poor villages along the Mekong River and lend/distribute books to children and adults, and have reading aloud, etc. The interest of the Laotian authorities in supporting education in remote areas is non-existent, which makes CLI’s activities particularly important.
The library boats (2 right now with the ambition to expand to 3-4) fulfil a very important function in Laos, mainly for children but also for adults. Each boat embarks on a 10-day tour twice a month and visits villages along the Mekong River and the Ou River.
Those more than 100 villages reached by water would otherwise have no access to books at all. Each boat holds more than 1000 books. When the book boat arrives in a village, the village school usually closes for the day to let the students read non-stop. The boat stops overnight, in the morning the books are collected, and the boat continues to the next village.
Books-by-MCs are sent to villages that cannot be reached by boats.
CLI has also built village schools and dormitories for girls. They are grateful for any support they can receive. A bookcase costs 300 USD.
An American filmmaker Sue Perkins has made a documentary about life along the Mekong River with features about the book boats, unfortunately without mentioning the organization’s name.
The Book Aid supports the purchase of books for library boats, and since 2020 the construction of a school library in connection with the Tha Po school. The project has also received Corona support in addition to regular grants.
Motivation: Activities are well in line with The Book Aid’s purpose of assisting children and adults in poor areas with books and stimulating reading among the weakest sections of society. This applies to both book boxes for book boats and the construction of a school library.