Driving Books in Aid of Children’s Literacy

The ‘Drive Books, Not Cars’ event raised Rp 24 million for worthy causes. (Photo courtesy of Drive Books, Not Cars)
The ‘Drive Books, Not Cars’ event raised Rp 24 million for worthy causes. (Photo courtesy of Drive Books, Not Cars)

One of the most awaited book drives in Jakarta returned for its fourth year last Sunday during Car Free Day in the fX Sudirman Mall VIP parking lot, with about 3,000 English-language novels for sale.

After a weekend dedicated to the sorting and selling of books, with the help of over 120 DBNC Troops (Drive Books, Not Cars Volunteers), the campaign sold over 1,500 books and collected a whopping Rp 24 million ($1,970) that will be donated equally to both Sahabat Anak, a nonprofit group focused on the welfare of Indonesian street children; and Taman Bacaan Pelangi, a non-profit organization that has established 29 children’s libraries in 14 remote islands across Eastern Indonesia.

“In a world where we are always glued to our screens, books continue to offer light and learning in a very personal and inspiring way,” said Pranay Shah Singh, a book enthusiast and first time volunteer for Drive Books, Not Cars. “It has been most fulfilling, to be around books, observing the curious eyes of various ages picking up books, and doing all this for a good cause. Not every day do you go to bed with a smile and feeling a tad bit wiser, last Sunday was one such day.”

However, the event couldn’t have been possible without the support of several organizations as well. “Drive Books, Not Cars has a clear aim that got us on board immediately”, said Indra Lesmana, the head of marketing communications and events at fX Sudirman. “We knew this event would attract communities and a crowd that shared the same interests. It is a positive cycle whereby book lovers are reading, selling and buying books over and over again, while the funds are directed towards non-profit organizations.” He also added that providing the venue for the event was one of their ways to be able to give back and be a part of a great cause.

Drive Books, Not Cars is an annual event which he hopes will continue to take place at fX Sudirman. Other organizations that supported the event included IndoRelawan, Books & Beyond, Periplus and The Habibie Center among others.

Before the big sale, volunteers gathered the day before at Bengkel Crossfit not only to sort out the books into categories but also for a chance to have first-hand pick at all their favorite books supporting the worthy cause. The outcome was astonishing with most volunteers grabbing a minimum of 10 books, while one broke a record by bringing home a box stacked with 52 novels.

“What a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon, in the midst of cartons and cartons of books. So this is how Charlie would have felt in the Chocolate Factory!” said Ratika Shah Singh, also first time volunteer of Drive Books Not Cars and wife to Pranay. She also added that during the mini workshop conducted by Diet Kantong Plastik on Saturday, she and other volunteers learnt a new use for old T-shirts by making them into eco-friendly and chic bags, which were given to buyers the next day for carrying books.

The DBNC Troops managed to sort thousands of books in less than 3 hours, which then were loaded into a truck provided by Asian Tigers Mobility. Also, with the help of their supportive employees, swift transportation, loading and unloading of books from one place to another was achieved.

Since 2011, Drive Books, Not Cars has collected over 40,000 books and raised more than $20,400 for Sahabat Anak and Taman Bacaan Pelangi. On that note, the Drive Books Not Cars and the Jakarta Globe’s Count Me In Team would like to thank each and everyone of you who have participated in the movement. As Sherry Anderson put it: “Volunteers are not paid not because they are worthless but because they are priceless.”