Saturday, July 03, 2010

Bakul Foundation Children's Library

I had visited this place last year, when I was doing my annual round of learning from the social ventures who work on the ground, and make a difference.... A friend of mine in XIMB had suggested that I should visit Bakul Foundation in Bhubneshwar, and gave me the address and the contact... a library for those who can't afford books!


It was an amazing experience!.. to meet the co-founder, visit the place, meet and talk to the kids from under-privileged/under-served background (bastis, slum, etc.), for whom this place was like a window to the world beyond they had ever known... some who came to the place could not even read, but would still look through the books, since they had photographs of places which perhaps existed only in their dreams...

...I flipped through the "Children's Community Story Book", where one person adds to another's incomplete story... experience the 'joyful learning' (a phrase which cropped in my mind then) ambience of the place...

I also met some of the volunteers - from young students who were preparing for an entrance test (but just loved to read out the books to kids who wouldn't be able to read the alphabets) to some foreigners who would love to tell these kids fairy-tales of their country... (and Sujit told me that many of them,, when they went back to their home countries, sent the entire set of fairy tales)

As this article Pioneering Library Sparks Volunteerism describes the place:

Over the last decade or so Satya Nagar in Bhubaneswar has morphed from a sleepy residential area to a commercial hub. When you go straight down the road from the brash, new Big Bazar in the area you hit a reasonably sized, unremarkable two storied house numbered 16 that is painted white and looks as boring as any other house on the lane. But you cannot miss a signboard that is essentially a piece of carved and painted wood that says ‘Bakul Sishu Paathaagaara’ (Bakul Children’s Library) in Oriya.

A small gate leads you into a space that looks as unlike a library as you can imagine. Of course there are books all around; but you have pictures of joyous monkeys playing on the walls and every inch of the walls painted cheerfully with one motif or the other in soothing bright colours.

But the physical aspect of the library is perhaps the least unusual thing about it. The Bakul library is one of the largest children’s libraries in the state of Orissa. It houses more than 8,000 books (primarily in Oriya and English, and some in Hindi) as well as multimedia and other educational material. There are no user charges for reading and referencing in the library, and there are no formalities involved in terms of becoming a member till now. Any child can drop in and read. Lending of books has not started, and a small fee might be levied as and when it starts. The library is run by the Bakul Foundation, with Dr Jatindra Nayak, Professor of English Literature, Utkal University as President, and is managed by volunteers Sujit Mahapatra and Satyajit Puhan with help from Puspalata Sethi and others.

A pledge campaign - "Donate Books, Build a Library" - was launched on the Internet by the trio of Satyajit Puhan, Sujit Mahapatra, and Ayushman Sarangi on the Orissa Day, 1 April 2006. Puhan is a young development economist and one of the founders of the Film Society of Bhubaneswar, Mahapatra is a Ph D scholar of English Literature at Delhi University and Sarangi is a computer engineer at Adobe. The campaign site was www.pledgebank.com/bakul-library. The goal was to mobilize a thousand people who would directly contribute (either with cash for a book or directly with a book) to set up a library, initially focusing on children and youth in Bhubaneswar. The deadline to get 1,000 supporters as well as to set up the library was the 1st of April 2007....



But Bakul Foundation is more than a library initiative. It is about volunteerism and engagement with society, e.g., the Bakul Art-Fest '09 one of the notable feature of that was the "Wall of Peace" which was painted by artists, college and school students and the general public...

..about creating environmental awarenessthrough innovative means, e.g., by gifting saplings on birthdays, child births, and weddings so that people will have an emotional connection with the gifts and therefore take responsibility for nurturing and caring for them: "We are not thinking of a mere event or activity. We are attempting to create a sub-culture around tree plantation, where trees can become a part of the everyday lives of people... We are trying to introduce an emotional connection between people and trees."

1 comment:

piyush said...

sir can yu kindly post the contact no or address of the foundation...if u ve it currently