Have you ever thought what would happen to your books after your children are done reading them? When our children outgrow the need of reading such content, we mostly give sell them away to rag-pickers. But instead of selling them, how about if we could find an alternative? If we could donate them to libraries? If we could use the old and unused books to cater to the ‘have-nots’ of our society?
This NGO Books For all utilises all used, old and unused children’s books to convert to a cheerful library for kids. Books for all started as a library so that underprivileged children could make use of these books but it now has become a platform for kids to unleash their hidden talents like public speaking, theatre and arts and crafts. This started as Pravin and Kanchan Bhasin’s dream to make books available for all. Contrary to other NGOs, Pravin said, “This started as a project with only a couple of people on-board as my post-retirement plan as my idea of giving back to society,” when The Logical Indian spoke to him. The first library was set up in Noida in the premises of a government school and now the initiative has branched to set up six libraries across NCR, five in Noida and one in SaritaVihar, Delhi.
The beginning of ‘Books For All’
The founder of this NGO, Pravin said, “Our motto lies in providing a better education to our slightly less lucky brothers and sister and get them hooked to the habit of reading. I staunchly believe that reading is the only way to gain an insight to the nuances of life.” In government schools, more often than not, we hardly have access to well stocked libraries which can effectively help in building reading habits for children. The inspiration of this idea came from the Room to Read by Microsoft, says Pravin. Back in 2010, Books For All, started off by collecting books from school children, books that they have grown out of and would never use.
One room in a government school was cheerfully designed with the help of volunteers. It started when Pravin visited Gheja village in Noida where the teachers had approached him to donate some mats to battle the biting cold winters. Later, he started a library in the same village school. Books For All helped in making the library look inviting for children so that they could read and learn more apart from the subject in their curriculum. Children could come, read and also find a reason motivating enough to visit the school everyday. “One of the major challenges we had to face in the initial days was to bring about visibility for this organisation,” said Mr. Bhasin. With over thirty years of experience in heading a private organisation, he used his knowledge in creating a holistic development of the NGO.
As the NGO branched to bear more fruits of wisdom in form of more libraries, their activities also spread wings from just being libraries to become creativity centres. It was registered as a trust in 2011. They gradually started taking remedial classes for fifth standard children who could not read or write properly. Remedial classes came from the basic premise of eradicating illiteracy. “These kids mostly are from impoverished backgrounds where getting a square meal each day is a difficult deal, let alone inculcating the interest to read and write. Most of them don’t get the opportunities to go to schools.”
Merging creativity with learning
The libraries are not only a platform for these kids to write and read books but they also organise fun activities which help them in learning through fun activities like spelling bee competitions, interactive English learning sessions and even grammar classes. They organise annual sports day, celebrate Independence day and organise picnics for children. Books For All aim at creating an environment for children which is conducive for them to learn so that learning and creativity can be infused to bring about a holistic development for the child.
Books For All started as a home-grown initiative which now has effectively created a creativity centre for kids who belong to an impoverished backgrounds. “Public speaking is one of the major areas which are focused on. One can see a major change in their confidence after proper training and grooming,” said Mr. Bhasin. Additionally, Books For All is also funding the education of eight girls and six boys and they have been enrolled in good Hindi medium schools in the NCR region.
Books For All works on a well-built network of volunteers who help the initiative sustain and in smooth implementation of the program, said Pravin on asking how does this initiative garner the support. “Books For All began as a dream to spread the love for reading books among one and all. Later it has transpired to become an initiative which could bring a change in the way education is perceived by the low-income groups. We aim to make each kid get hooked on to the habit of reading books. We want each child to speak their mind and to think,” said Pravin, with iota of hope resonating in his voice. The Logical Indian community applauds his way of thought which is bringing positive changes into the framework of the society.
To know more please visit Books For All or reach them at 01204546127.
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