Little faces sparkled with joy as the minivan pulled up at BK Pal Park, Kolkata, West Bengal in the redlight district on Monday, January 21. This was no ordinary minivan, as the four-wheeler was decked with colourful children’s book which opened up new doors filled with possibilities.
NGO launches mobile library
This was definitely a unique experience for the children of the area, for whom, getting their hands on storybooks is a fairly difficult ordeal. The mobile library was launched by Apne Aap Women World, an NGO working towards abolishing sex-trafficking in India, in association with Apeejay Anand Children’s Library and Coal India on January 20 at the Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival on January 20. The van was launched by Priti Paul, Director, Apeejay Surrendra Group where she herself donated 500 books.
Talking to The Logical Indian, Ruchira Gupta, founder of the organisation said that the mobile library is merely an attempt to add more value to the lives of the children of sex workers who otherwise have limited access to other sources of entertainment. Children can lend books to read for a week and then return it. “This exercise would also instil a sense of responsibility among the children,” she added.
The van visits the red light areas of Sonagachhi and Kidderpore thrice a week for three hours. It is accompanied by storytellers and volunteers who help in conducting storytelling sessions. Gupta said, “A lot of college and university students have signed up for the storyteller programme.” Additionally, the local administrative authorities have been immensely supportive in lending their support in terms of providing the organisation with open spaces where they can set shop.
New movement in the making
While the minivan is already stocked with hundreds of selectable books covering a wide range of genres, people also have the opportunity to donate more books at a designated location in one of Kolkata’s famous landmarks – the AC mall.
Gupta feels that education is the only means by which the children of sex workers today can be freed from the vicious cycle of inter-generational prostitution. While she is the first one to start such an initiative in Kolkata, the organisation has already invested its time in educating the children of sex-workers who are at high risk of sexual exploitation. The organisation also has a number of other initiatives chalked out for the children which are all aimed at providing them with a wholesome learning experience which includes the Books 4 Freedom initiative – where the knowledge of books will set the children free.
Gupta truly feels that this is just the beginning of a tremendous movement in the making. The Logical Indian applauds the organisation for starting an initiative like this.