In the slum area of Mogappair East in Chennai, there is a tiny room stacked with books called Abdul Kalam Arivagam – a library started by Balaji Premkumar and Jagadheeswaran Dhakshinamoorthy. But it wasn’t always the same.
The area was ruined by the Chennai floods in 2015. Balaji and Jagadheeswaran were rehabilitating its inhabitants, which included alcoholic men and women who worked as household helps, living in extremely poor conditions.
They came across a building that used to be a drinking club frequented by the local men. They transformed this drinking club and turned it into a library for children.
“People were initially doubtful if the children would make use of it. But the kids loved it. They started borrowing books and turning up for tuitions,” Jagadheeswaran told Edex Live.
Slowly, the library grew and became a self-sustained centre.
Books, computers and newspapers were brought in, and the youngsters from the area volunteered to help with taking classes.
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“It all started with a student of mine, Veera, taking up classes. I coach him for the civil services examination. The youngsters here really want to carve a niche for themselves and have a better life,” Balaji told Edex Live.
Today, a group of students attend classes at the library regularly. A TASMAC that existed near the area has also shut down, which has helped a lot of people with their alcohol addiction.
According to the publication, some of them have even become regular visitors to the library.
Certainly, we here at The Better India hope this idea goes a long way.