Opening Day For A New Library – Report by Caroline Keane

Irula tribal children posing on the steps of their new Community Center

While I was in India last year, I was lucky enough to visit some of the rural villages that SAVE-INTL and TVO works with near Mamallapuram. I got to see first-hand many of their wonderful programmes and projects. One very special event I attended in May 2010 was the opening of a new library at the Kunnapattu-Irular Community Center.

This was a very proud day for the village, and both parents and children came along to celebrate the occasion and borrow their first books. Everyone was excited to have their very first local library.

handing out some of the library books

After John said a few words to inaugurate the library, the children eagerly queued up to borrow their first books.

Some of the children wasted no time and started to read the story books right away.

So how did the library happen?

This library is a brilliant idea. It’s wonderfully simple, low cost, and works really well. It brings books to this very poor community and helps them to value the importance of reading and learning, especially for their children.

With a very small donation from supporters, John bought a variety of low cost books from suppliers in India. There are books to suit all ages, and they’re engaging as well as fun to read.

The local women covered the books in transparent paper to make sure they last as long as possible.

Then John bought a large sturdy tin box to store the books in. A local man volunteered to be the librarian and take responsibility for managing the library. He looks after the books, manages borrowing and lending and makes sure that the community takes good care of their library.

And it works. The villagers are proud to have their library and they take care to manage it well. It’s amazing how such a small donation and a simple idea can have such a big, lasting benefit.

It was wonderful to see that the library is just one of the many uses of this small one-roomed community centre. During the day, local women have sewing classes here and in the evenings children attend classes run by local teachers.

Sewing Machines provided for the Kunnapattu Irula Community Center

Thenmozhi, the tailoring teacher employed by SAVE-INTL and TVO, demonstrates the use of the sewing machine.

SAVE-INTL and TVO do a great job. I was really impressed at how well they’ve helped these communities, and how they make the most of their modest budgets. The local villagers I met are very poor and disadvantaged. With their help, they are improving their day to day lives in many different ways.

The Irula village children assemble for a group photo

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