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Bicycle transformed into library lend books for free to SãoPaulo poor residents

The project “Bicicloteca” was created by an ex - homeless desire to read books. Living in the streets and shelters for three years, Robson Mendonça, who is currently the president of Movimento Estadual da População em Situação de Rua (movement for people that live in the streets), used to go to the public library called Mario de Andrade in São Paulo center to read. However, the bureaucracy to prove settlement was always an obstacle to learn. During a tree plantation movement in the square in front of Mario de Andrade library, Robson met the Green Mobility Institute president, Lincoln Paiva, who transformed Robson´s idea into reality. The institute that works on several projects for sustainable urban mobility, sponsored the bicycle production that coasted R$ 3500 (about 1450 euro) and can lock 200 books.

The bicycle transformed into a library, started to circulate at São Paulo center in June with books that could be borrowed for free. Two months later the

vehicle was stolen and sold to a junkie that resold it. After been recovered, a Brazilian publisher named “Melhoramentos” paid for the bicycle rebuild. Till this episode, 4200 books were borrowed, being 99% to homeless, according do Robson. Every day the bicycle goes to a different square and it is responsible to transform homeless people lives. “Beyond being a library that travels all around, it is an instrument that recovers this people self - esteem and promotes social inclusion to the ones to whom the government doesn’t give much attention”, says Lincoln. According to a São Paulo city homeless census, published by the Economic Research Institute (Fipe) in 2009, 13,666 people lived on the streets or sleep in municipal shelters at the time. From 2000 and 2009, the number of people living on the streets in São Paulo grew 57%. The homeless gathered in municipal shelters increased from 3693 (45.7%) in 2000 to 7079 (51.8%) in 2009. The highest concentration was detected in the region of the Republic Square (23.8%) and in the area of Cathedral Square (18.1%), both in the city center, where the bicycle stays. These numbers should be bigger now. “Currently there are 20.000 homeless in the city and only 8.000 beds in shelters for them”, claims Robson. He also declares that there are no public policies for homeless, although São Paulo state is the only with a specific law for homeless in the country. “This law is not being applied and the shelters don´t solve the problem. They are human warehouses, where there is no help to take identification documents or jobs search”, observes Robson.

The books donations come from general population, through collection points around the city's twenty six subway stations, Public Libraries and at Green Mobility office and at Movimento Estadual da População em Situação de Rua office. Besides these places, a partnership between Green Mobility and a paper cooperative “Cooper Glicério” was held. The men, who work in the materials selective collection for recycling, get a ton of books a month, which are removed from offices and residences. The books are crushed and sold as paper to be recycled by the industry. The shredded paper sale is an important resource that supports hundreds of recycled material collectors in Sao Paulo. Most books are collected in good condition and could be used by the population. Following this argument, the Coop Glicério is now selling the books they find for the project Biblioteca Móvel with a R$ 0,60 cost per Kg. The initiative is pleasing São Paulo population. During an action in a new point last week, at Pérola Byngton square, a neighborhood resident, Ana, claimed she was going to donate books to the project. “I saw a report about this

on television and I found very interesting. My son won fifty books and I am going to select some and give away for the first time”. Another Mother also enjoyed de bicycle. Cristina´s daughter Nicole was already reading the Bible at the square. “She likes to read very much and having a place to borrow books for free is very nice”, says Cristina. Another bicycle, this one electric and with Wi - Fi is going to join the one existing to expand the project to another neighborhood, outside the city center. The senator Eduardo Suplicy, from the same Brazilian president political party PT, is supporting the idea. “As soon as the project started, I donated my own books. As a public figure, I think is important to encourage the people”. At least for now, the support is only moral as there is no political action involved, although Robson Mendonça has tried this at the project beginning. “During that time I was living in the shelters, I showed the idea to the São Paulo social assistance secretary, but he couldn´t implement as all the ones to whom I presented the project´s idea”. At that period in 2006, The São Paulo State Culture Secretary developed an action called “estado de leitura”, that implemented over 86 lecture classes at shelters. According to the lecture and libraries coordinator from the institution, Adriana Ferrari, the project did not continue. “This type of project needs fixed partnerships and volunteers. That’s why we are restructuring this idea”. To the bicicloteca there is no official government incentive, but Robson is pleased with the result. “It is nice to see the homeless asking about the books. There is one I know that cannot read, so she requires books with pictures, in order to tell the stories through them”, celebrates him.

Bicycle transformed into library lend books for free to São Paulo poor residents  

matéria para Henry Stewart Publications

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