Meet The Duo Who Are On A Mission To Build 100 Libraries In Every State Of India

Pavan Manikanta Kumar West Bengal

June 7th, 2017 / 3:42 PM

Sanjukt and Swastika are on a mission to build 100 libraries in each of the states in India. These libraries are not equipped with chairs, tables and books racks like regular libraries. ‘Wall O Books’ teams up with 100 kids from a particular area with the help of a local organisation and help them to build ‘hypercool’ libraries using just a wall. Wall-O Books is an initiative of Crayons Of Hope Foundation.


Most of these children live and study in cramped places where space is a luxury. So they choose a wall, put up a simple, cool library of their own, stacked with books, hence the name.


Wall O Books is a cost-effective, innovative library that facilitates access to the world outside via colourful story books and comics, punctuated with interventions designed to follow a cycle of learning – reflective thinking – expressing and sharing.

Setting up the library:

Wall O Books collaborates with organisations and institutions who are already working for the vulnerable children in the age group of 5 to 16 years. Nominated teachers from these organisation participate in the Wall O Books Teacher Training Workshop. After the workshop is completed, Wall O Books kit with 100 books is given to the teachers, which has everything required to build a Wall O Books.


“The process in which Wall O Book’s creates the learning tree is fun and educational. Not only had I enjoyed learning and creating the design, the children who I taught, loved creating it.”  – Lima Gayan (Teacher, Offer India, Kolkata)


The teachers go back to build the library together with the children. To encourage the children to take ownership, the setup of the library is solely taken care of children.They design and build their libraries with the guidance from their teacher and are accountable for its proper maintenance.


The library nicely fits onto the school wall, embellished with a lovely painted tree and fence done with paper mache art, a notice board and a feedback box, to help us stay informed how much the kids love and learn from the library. The kids actively take part in transforming the shabby and pencil scribbled wall into a colourful modular knowledge hangout for themselves.


The project team stocks the library with 100 books, a world map, a light bulb and a few more things. The books are carefully curated by the project team who try and ensure that even an expensive encyclopaedia or a National Geographic issue finds its way to the eager little hands of the underserved children. Apart from books in native languages, the kids are encouraged to read English storybooks too.


Little librarian

During the inauguration of Wall O Books, the children elect their leader, Little Librarian, for their Wall O Books library through an exhaustive and full–featured election. They nominate candidates, speeches are made, queues are formed, votes are cast, and a leader is elected; and then he/she makes an acceptance speech.


“ I love reading story books and have learned a lot of new things from these books. As a responsible librarian, I also keep track of all the books issued to the members of our library. I write feedback on the books I read and also encourage my friends to do the same. It was great fun to perform a drama based on one of the stories we read from our library; we received a lot of appreciation from the audience.” Little Librarian Shagufi, Bal Shiksha Kendra school.


Each centre starts with 100 books, and the books are circulated among all local centres so that they essentially have access to a 10,000 books library. This way an expensive encyclopaedia or a National Geographic issue finds a way to reach thousands of kids.


Just a postcard

Every month the children work on a workshop in a group together with their teacher. For example, Identity workshop is one of the first interventions after the library is set up.It has an interesting take on how important a name is to a kid’s identity. Children are told the meanings of their names and are also informed about achievers from different fields of life with the same name.


Children are then asked to write a postcard introducing themselves to another child from a different Wall -O- Book centre. They do it amazingly because they now know what their names mean and who they can look up to as a role model. ” said Swastika, CEO of Wall O Books.


As each child receives a postcard from their friend, in addition to the excitement of being the sole witness to the creative works of an unseen friend living in a faraway city, he gains a fresh perspective on the intervention itself. This creates an amazingly powerful sense of identity in them.


Future plans

Till now Wall -O-Books built 159 covering 45,000+ children. In next two years, there are aiming to make 100 in each state – 2900 Centres covering 1 million children in the next two years. This year, they started in Arunachal Pradesh to test their model in a harsh environment.


 

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