The Magical World of Alif Laila Book Bus Society
Fashion Editorial Ft. Generation
Nestled in the outskirts of Lahore’s bustling main market is a colourful bus turned children’s library. The Alif Laila Book Bus Society is named after the fabled Thousand and One Nights and is no less a fairytale itself. Shinning bright in a coat of red paint, this little haven on wheels is where children come to travel to faraway lands of dreams in the imaginary world of books. The inside of the bus, boasting cheerful illustrations painted in popping primary colours, is a time capsule that takes you back to the most magical years of your life; to an age of innocence and pure, unadulterated joy.
Founded in 1978 by Nita Baker, an American living in Pakistan, and currently being run by Mrs Basarat Kazim, the Alif Laila Book Bus Society is Pakistan’s first children’s library. The platform runs three mobile libraries; the bus, a rickshaw and a Suzuki. The rickshaw library was created for easy access to the narrow streets of low-income areas for underprivileged children, where the bus previously faced difficulty reaching.
The bus is parked next to a larger library with several rooms and an audio-visual center that entertains a host of children from varying socio-economic brackets; making the library an inclusive space where children not only learn from books but also through interactive activities with other children of different backgrounds.
Alif Laila’s resource centers teach electronics, art and craft and computers to government school children free of cost (for other children, they conduct summer camps charging Rs 2500 per head for one month).
An institution like this serves a breath of much needed fresh air to clear the congestion of a tech-infested, digital world; where children are being raised on scarily unhealthy levels of screen time.
With a nominal subscription cost of 500 rupees a year, The Alif Laila Book Bus Society is exactly the kind of space and community that we need to raise a mindful and meaningful new generation of free and fine thinkers.
It’s no wonder that our team chose this truly wonderful location for an editorial shoot with Pakistan’s leading ethnic-wear retail giant, Generation; a brand that has always aligned its marketing strategies with activist values, focusing on socially conscious causes and inclusivity campaigns. What we attempted to achieve here is to combine Generation’s and Alif Laila Book Bus Society’s thoughtful approach towards caring for the community in a series of photographs that celebrate the same values twofold.
Location: Alif Laila Book Bus Society
Model: Meher Hasan
Hair & Makeup: Nabila
Jewellery: Amna Shariff
Shoot Direction & Styling: Mahnum Kabir (Contributing Fashion Editor, Libas Now)