Community LibraryOctober 24th, 2022 | By Pushpika Freitas, President of MarketPlace
"Go read a book." How many times have we said that to our kids, either to occupy them or educate them? In India, the communities we work in have no libraries, not even in schools. The social work team in Mumbai was worried that
there were gaps in the development of the children, and their parents felt that their reading and spoken skills were poor.
To address this problem we recently started a library at the Education for Life Community Centre. It takes up just a corner of a room, but its impact is large. The enthusiasm of the kids and their mothers was exhilarating. From classifying the books in genres, setting up the racks, using packaging to decorate the space and learning that they could take them home, the children were so thrilled. Prapti Sokate, Grade 7, loved a book from our community library so much she copied it by hand, word by word, into her notebook. She wanted to be able to read it again whenever she wanted!
One mother, Minal Patil, exclaimed, "We never had anything like this in our community. Having the option to choose our own book is really exciting and I am happy for the children." An embroidery artisan at WARE, Komal Solanki, is also grateful for the library. "Whenever my daughter Saloni (Grade 7) brings home a Hindi or Marathi book from the library I help her with the difficult words. For English books I ask her to read and tell me the story. Her 5-year old brother loves to listen and imitate her." Reading enhances spoken and written language, and books open up a new world of knowledge, creativity and thinking. Both the Education for Life and the Armaan Club children participate in group reading sessions as well as reading on their own.
We plan to spread the opportunity beyond the Santacruz area. We will be developing programs at different artisans' groups, bringing them batches of books and setting up reading groups and borrowing programs. These children clearly have a hunger for knowledge, and what started off as a small initiative has blossomed into a world of wonder!
--Pushpika Freitas, President