Bhopal: Mobile library for slum children in corona time

Amidst coronavirus pandemic, a mobile library is delivering books to children of slum areas at their doorsteps every Sunday.

A voluntary organisation, Pahal Shiksha Gramin Vikas Evam Jankalyan Samiti runs the book room, 'Har Ravivar Kitabon Ka Tyohar'. The aim is to connect each child with books and to keep them away from socializing because of the corona pandemic.

The Samiti has been running the library since 2013 in four slum areas of the city including Anunagar, Anand Nagar, Rajeev Nagar and Naya Basera. And each centre has batch of nearly 40 children.

Before Covid-19, the library used to open for children from 7pm to 9pm daily but now it is opened on Sunday only. Since children couldn't visit library during lockdown and due to Covid-19, volunteers of the Samiti go to their homes on Sunday morning (from 7am-9am) and give books mostly stories and poems to them, told founder of the Samiti, Ashish Kumar Koshta told Free Press.

He said the main objective of the library is to educate slum children and connect them to the mainstream. "And we don't want that education and reading habit of the children are not hampered due to the pandemic," he said.

Ashish Raghuvanshi, a volunteer said the books are exchanged every Sunday after sanitisation. He said the books we chose are such that they introduce the children to alphabets and numbers. "We also took feedback and crosscheck whether they read the books when we go to exchange books on Sunday, he said. Children also asked sometimes when they are unable to get any words, he said.

15-year-old Arbaz said he can't go library now, so he is reading a story of elephant at home. "I mostly enjoy reading books with friends at the library," he said

Similarly, Musa who studies in class three said she is reading a story of rabbit now. Besides reading, she also plays with friends wearing mask.

Around 50 children of age group from 10 to 18 years are enrolled in the library and most of them are daily wage earners. The organisation has also got some of them admitted to schools and colleges.

Koshta said there are eight volunteers and all are professionals including driver, social worker etc., said Koshta. "We run the library by contributing money from our members. We didn't get fund from government," the founder of the Samiti said.

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