Roshan the camel has an important mission; trekking across the arid terrain of Pakistan's Balochistan, to a village where dozens of children are waiting for his important cargo - books.
"The camel is here!! The camel is here!" delighted children chant as they surround Roshan, the camel library, on his arrival to their village.
In March 2020, with the Covid-19 pandemic raging across the country, Pakistan closed its schools, sending over 50 million school and university-going students home, to the dismay of tens of thousands of parents and people connected with the education system.
Raheema Jalal, principal of Zubeda Jalal Girls High School, who founded the Camel Library project with her sister, a federal minister, says she started the library last August because she wanted children around her remote hometown to continue learning despite schools being closed.
The project collaborates with the Female Education Trust and Alif Laila Book Bus Society, two NGOs who have been been running children's library projects in the country for 36 years.
Roshan carries the books to four different villages in the district of Kach, making the journey on alternate week days.
The library is open for two to three hours, from around 3-6pm, with children borrowing books to be returned the next time the camel comes back.
"I like picture books, because when I look at the pictures and the photographs, I can understand the story better," nine-year-old Ambareen Imran said.
The village schools have reopened, but local officials say they have received many requests for the library to continue in spite of the resumption.
Jala hopes to continue and expand the project to cover more villages and is looking into funding. As of now almost the entire budget of $117.50 goes to the employment of Roshan.
Murad Ali, the camel's owner, says he was taken aback when he was first contacted about the project, but thought that camels were the most sensible mode of transport in the remote and rugged area where village streets are too narrow for vehicles.
He enjoys the trips, seeing the happy children and on top of that, he still earns just as much as when he used to carry firewood.
Balochistan, Pakistan's largest province by area, is an arid desert and mountainous region in the southwest of the country. It makes up 44% of Pakistan's total land mass, but has a population of just 12.34 million, a little over 5% of the national total.
It is Pakistan's most impoverished province, with a 40% literacy rate - the lowest in the country.
Around 62% of children between the ages of five and 16 in rural areas of the province do not attend school.