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More than a decade on, families in Indonesia still live with the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami. We opened three new Villages to care for children orphaned by the disaster. Today, we help families in eight locations provide a safe, stable upbringing for their children, and care for children with no-one else. … more about our charity work in Indonesia

SOS “book bikes” provide a valuable service for Indonesian Children

Children collecting books from the SOS book bike
Children collecting books from the SOS book bike

Every week, two SOS libraries on the back of motorcycles travel round Flores, an island on the east side of Indonesia, providing materials and activities for local children. In deprived areas, the mobile library makes a real difference for children who would otherwise not be able to access educational resources.

On the island of Flores, the public library facilities are inadequate and many families are so poor that they are unable to purchase books or educational materials. The mobile library consists of two motorcycles that have containers mounted on them. Each “book bike” holds around 700 books and magazines as well as interactive materials. Gregor Nitihardjo, the director of SOS Children in Indonesia, explains the aims of the book bikes: "Children who live in remote areas should be encouraged to read. The inhabitants of the islands are very poor. Most children have not even got the books that they need for school at home. What could be better for them than a mobile library?"

One book bike rides around the area close to the SOS Children's Village in Flores, bringing books to the children in the community surrounding the SOS Village, whilst the other covers the local schools in the town of Maumere. The motorbikes are on the road up to three times a week and attract people's attention by playing a well-known tune from speakers with a voice-over that says "I'm smart because I love reading!"
Reading books from SOS book bike Indonesia
Staff from SOS Children's Village Flores work as mobile librarians. They ride the motorcycles, help the children to select reading materials, and supervise them whilst they read. The library materials can be borrowed free of charge. The book bikes often visit local schools, and teachers allocate time for children to sit outside and read the books. As many of the children’s have limited reading skills, most of the books are short and have many pictures - the idea is to get the children interested so that they can gradually improve their literacy skills.

Ten-year old Rehana enjoys visits from the book bike: "It has really helped us to learn how to enjoy reading. I've learnt a lot since I've been coming here." The benefits of the library have extended into the children’s home lives, where they can share and talk about what they have learnt with their families.

SOS also provide mobile library services for children in mainland Indonesia, as well as other countries including Bangladesh and Belarus. SOS Children also provide a direct education for 50,000 children in our SOS Schools across the world.