A group of dynamic youngsters in Kerala is on a heartwarming mission to construct libraries and cultivate the habit of reading among people of all ages. They are reviving old libraries that need maintenance and have also constructed new libraries. So far, they have successfully set up 16 libraries across the state which include seven newly constructed libraries and nine renovated libraries.
By forming a not-for-profit organisation called Kites Foundation, they aim to bridge the gap between literacy and underserved communities, recognising the pivotal role that books play in shaping minds and empowering individuals.
These youngsters, armed with a passion for books and a belief in the transformative power of education, are making a remarkable impact in Kerala. They have set up libraries in all the 14 districts, with two each in Thrissur and Wayanad districts under the Book Farm project.
“In this digital age, libraries are slowly losing their importance with people relying on online resources for reading. Our initiative aims at inculcating the habit of reading among everyone and also bridging the gap between the privileged and the disadvantaged to access the learning resources like libraries,” Ajmal Chakkarapadam, chief executive officer and co-founder at Kites Foundation told “Open Digest”. The other founder is Claire C John who is also the managing director.
The Dolcy library and Reading Room at Canal base in Irinjalakuda, Thrissur was the first library to be renovated under the project. Ajmal says, “When we visited the library, it was in a dilapidated state. However, there were enough books in the library. We furnished it with some chairs and made it accessible to people. Now, it is being effectively used by book lovers.” The project is being implemented by collaborating with the Library Council, NSS units and reading clubs across the state.
Through their dedicated team of more than 4,000 volunteers, more than 1,50,000 books have already been collected to set up the libraries. Apart from the public libraries, over 1,200 class libraries have been created in over 100 schools across the state.
Apart from reviving and building libraries, the team has set up 14 micro learning hubs in different parts of the state for the benefit of children from economically backward sections of the society. “During the pandemic, when education shifted online, many children in the tribal and coastal regions of the state were finding it difficult to continue with their studies. These micro learning hubs will ensure that these children are not left out and they will be given live learning experience as those in conventional schools. Experts in different fields have been entrusted to teach the children,” shares Ajmal.
After expanding their activities by setting up libraries in Kerala, the team plans to build and revive libraries in other states also.