UNICEF Lebanon and ASSABIL - On the road with Kotobus for the rights of every child

As part of UNICEF Lebanon’s activities marking CRC30 - three decades since the signing of the Convention on the Rights of the Child – Kotobus is on the roads across the country for UNICEF and for the nation’s children

Simon Balsom
Children visiting the bus library and learning about their rights.
UNICEF2019/Fouad-Choufany/Lebanon

12 November 2019

Thirty years ago, world leaders made a historic commitment to the world’s children by adopting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – an international agreement on childhood. Today, through a UNICEF-supported ASSABIL’s Kotobus – literally The Bus of Books – mobile library is taking the convention’s message across Lebanon, ensuring every child knows their rights.

Lebanese NGO ASSABIL – a public library association with three libraries in Beirut - launched its first mobile library in 2008 in the aftermath of the July 2006 war on Lebanon. Known as the Kotobus, this mobile library continues to circulate primarily to public schools and NGOs serving underprivileged children in Beirut and its suburbs.

Children in the bus holding Jad and Tala's Story
UNICEF2019/Fouad-Choufany/Lebanon

Now, in 2019 and as part of UNICEF Lebanon’s activities marking CRC30 - three decades since the signing of the Convention on the Rights of the Child – Kotobus is on the roads across the country for UNICEF and for the nation’s children.

The collaboration was launched on 5 June at UNICEF’s Child Rights Festival at Horch Beirut, during which more than 1,000 Lebanese, Palestinian, and Syrian children from across Lebanon enjoyed a day of activities varying from interactive theatre, storytelling, puppet shows, music, paint, and craft workshops. Through these activities, children were engaged and learned about their rights while having fun.

Today, Kotobus takes the message further. Between June and December 2019, an additional forty child rights events are scheduled by UNICEF and ASSABIL.

At every venue local children gather; eager to come and learn through play. With every visit of the Kotobus come games, puppets and role play. At the heart of every event are books and the delivery of valuable child rights messages through storytelling.

Children during the Kotobus tour
UNICEF2019/Fouad-Choufany/Lebanon

Centred on Lebanon’s public libraries, ASSABIL coordinates its arrival with local NGOs and municipalities, as well as UNICEF field officers – together drawing maximum attendance and benefit for those children most in need. Where no library exists… the Kotobus is the child’s place to be – with up to 100 children at every event.

The support of the municipalities has proved invaluable to the success of this Kotobus project, with the bonus of added system strengthening being realised through their cooperation with UNICEF.

On the bus, and as a gift for every child, is UNICEF Lebanon’s first Arabic-language children’s storybook. Featuring the adventures of Jad and Tala, the book was written for children between 4 and 9 years old and promotes child rights by discussing topics that affect a child’s well-being and development. Titled “Playing is so much fun!” it is the first book in a series that will go on to build a focus on positive parenting and was produced through funding from the EU Regional Trust Fund “MADAD”.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has become the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history

Each child also receives a card carrying the details of their rights, those enshrined by the signing of the CRC thirty years ago – a copy for them to keep and to be empowered through.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has become the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history and has helped transform children’s lives around the world. UNICEF is committed to ensuring that leaders from government, business and communities fulfil their commitments and take action for child rights.

Throughout the closing months of 2019, UNICEF, together with ASSABIL are on the roads of Lebanon making sure that every child has every right.