Oliya is a small tribal village with a population of less than 1,000 people. Situated 110 km from Bhubaneswar, it is home to about 190 households. Although 70% of the people living in this village are literate, according to figures, very few have access to any books. A group of children from Tarini Nodal Upper Primary School, aged between 8 to 11, felt bad about this situation. While they had access to reading materials at their school and enjoyed their benefits, they wondered about how they could share the joy of reading with everyone in their village, including the adults.
Under the mentorship of Pragyan Pramita, the kids became inspired to do something about this situation. They adopted the simple 4-step formula of ‘Feel-Imagine-Do-Share’ developed by the non-profit Design for Change that challenges children to solve problems in their communities. After ‘Feeling’ for the problem, the children gathered to brainstorm and ‘Imagine’ several solutions for it.
The children decided that if the village didn’t have a library, they could bring their own library to the village!
They decided they would create a ‘Mobile Library’. Praising their intent to share the joy of reading with more people, the Headmaster encouraged the children to go ahead with this plan. The group of children ranged from classes 6 to 8, and included Saina Priyadarsini Mohapatra, Debasis Mallik, Barsharani Sahoo, Ahalya Sahoo, Lipsa among others.
But the kids did not want to take the books in cartons. They wanted to make the library ‘visible’ and ‘inviting’.
So they built a ‘mobile book rack’ using bamboo and rope. The books could be neatly arranged onto the rack. This would attract the villagers towards it, encouraging them to pick up the books and read them!
The children also marched with banners emblazoned with slogans inspiring people to come and read.
To organise books for the Mobile Library and keep record of the titles being issued by the villagers, the children formed a Library Committee of 12 students. On the last Sunday of every month, the library travelled from spot-to-spot in Oliya village. As the Mobile Library travelled across the village, it became very popular. The villagers now look forward to the last Sunday of every month, waiting for the kids to come by with their Mobile Library.
News of the Mobile Library spread to neighbouring villages and they invited the students to bring it to their villages too.
The ‘Mobile Library’ project was selected among the top 20 stories of change at the ‘I CAN Awards 2017’. Since 2009, the ‘I CAN Awards’ have attracted 14,000 stories of change from school children all over India. The event is organised by Design for Change to recognise children who are making social change in their communities. To bring this design-thinking challenge to the children of Odisha’s government schools, Design for Change partnered with Tata Steel’s Thousand Schools project, a CSR initiative that aims to ‘bridge the learning gap’ in government schools in Odisha.
The project won the Parle-G ‘Easy to Replicate’ category award, with a prize money of Rs 50,000.
Today, every child from the age of 6 to 14 years at Tarini Nodal Upper Primary School, as well as parents and teachers, have become involved in the Mobile Library project. A separate classroom has been dedicated to the library books, which is run by a Library Committee, with the support of the teachers. All the students of the school meet once a month with the Library Committee to discuss the status of the project.
What a simple and powerful way to share the joy of reading with all!
Do you know a community that lacks access to books? How about replicating the Mobile Library project there in your own way?
Be part of one of the largest global movement of children driving social change in their communities. Take up the ‘I CAN’ School Challenge in your classroom. Find out more online.