MEE rides along in a mobile children’s library aimed at filling the Israeli state's educational gaps in Bedouin towns it deems illegal
LAKIYA, Israel - It is a Friday afternoon in the Palestinian Bedouin village of Lakiya, and many of its residents are sitting inside, shielding themselves from the desert heat.
The town, made up of simple one-story buildings and narrow dusty streets, is located in the heart of Israel's southern Negev region, with sand and brown grass stretching out as far as the eye can see. As the neighbourhood mosque broadcasts the call to prayer, volunteers at a local community centre prepare to make their regular rounds through nearby villages to deliver an otherwise unavailable resource: children’s books.
Three times a week, volunteers working with the local Association for the Improvement of Women’s Status load up a cargo truck with books in Arabic, Hebrew and English. The “mobile library” is then driven out of Lakiya to residential areas that lack basic infrastructure and educational facilities because they are deemed illegal by the state. Established by the Association in 2000, the library makes stops in the unrecognised villages of Abu Kef, Owajan and Alatresh, serving around 1,750 children.