Today’s Solutions: May 29, 2024

Mohammad Noman bikes carefully and purposefully through the labyrinthine lanes of Karachi’s Lyari Town, among the rush and bustle of everyday life. Though his ice cream cart suggests otherwise, he isn’t here to sell frozen desserts. Rather, his mission is to share stories.

The storyteller in Karachi: nurturing minds on wheels

As Noman bicycles around the streets, a curious swarm of children gathers around him, eager to hear his stories. Saira Bano, an eight-year-old listener, shares her enthusiasm, “I don’t mind listening to it again,” she says, referring to a story that Noman has already read. “He’s so funny,” she adds. 

Noman, a 23-year-old dropout and aspiring educator, is on a quest to instill a love of reading in Karachi’s poor young. He is part of‘s Kahaani Sawaari (Stories on Wheels) program, which aims to improve literacy in Karachi’s underprivileged areas. Despite his scholastic difficulties, Noman has found fulfillment in telling stories and leaving books for eager young minds.

Addressing literacy challenges in Pakistan

Pakistan faces substantial literacy issues, with 77 percent of 10-year-olds unable to comprehend simple text, according to the World Bank. Economic constraints exacerbate the situation since books and uniforms remain excessively expensive for many households. Saira’s experience reflects the problems of numerous children around the country who have been forced to drop out of school owing to financial difficulty.

The Kahaani Sawaari program aims to bridge this divide by bringing storytelling to villages such as Lyari. Erum Kazi, GoRead’s program director, emphasizes the initiative’s transformative impact, citing how youngsters have developed a newfound passion for reading since its launch in 2021. Kazi believes that via careful storytelling, they may divert children away from negative influences and instead instill in them a love of study.

The effects of storytelling on communities

Beyond promoting literacy skills, storytelling can act as a catalyst for larger social change within communities. Noman’s workshops have inspired children to pursue their studies, providing optimism in an otherwise grim educational scene. As Nusser Sayeed, GoRead’s director, explains, “Purposeful storytelling builds a child’s character and brings out the traits for success in life.”

Rashida Ashraf, a resident, observes the impact of Noman’s presence in the area. Despite the absence of ice cream, she values the beneficial impact on the children’s minds. “It’s nice,” she says, understanding the power of storytelling to broaden horizons and ignite imagination.

Empowering children through education

The success of projects such as Kahaani Sawaari demonstrates the value of investing in education as a means of empowerment. Programs that use storytelling and community participation can help marginalized adolescents realize their full potential, paving the road for a brighter future.

As Noman continues his journey through Karachi’s streets, his ice cream cart serves as a light of hope, providing not only stories but also opportunities for growth and change.

In less than two years, almost 15,000 children have attended more than 700 Kahaani Sawaari storytelling sessions, illustrating the program’s reach and effectiveness. Erum Kazi gives encouraging feedback from parents who have observed an improvement in their children’s conduct and attitude toward learning.

Despite the tremendous progress made by programs such as Kahaani Sawaari, Pakistan’s education system still faces systemic issues, such as high absenteeism and insufficient funding. However, through collaborative efforts and innovative ideas, organizations such as are driving positive change and establishing the groundwork for a more literate and empowered society.

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