How a couple kindled a culture of reading in a remote Uttarakhand village
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How a couple kindled a culture of reading in a remote Uttarakhand village

Uttrakhand Village

For many of us, education is something we have always taken for granted without having to fight for it. However, there are thousands of children in remote areas for whom access to quality education is considered a privilege.

Located in the serene mountains of Nainital is Seem village that barely houses around 362 residents. The concept of literacy has reached here and so has schools but like most remote villages, student attendance and quality of education are sparse.

Education has advanced drastically with the advent of technology and the idea of traditional classrooms has changed over time. However, behind the towering hills of Nainital, young children had to trek for hours simply to attend schools that hardly impart quality education.

It wasn’t until a retired couple opened new doors that the children of the village were restricted to hand-me-downs textbooks and outdated curriculums. Jaya Shah, a social worker from Mumbai and her husband Atul chose to retire in Seem in the early 2016.

Upon noticing how children struggle to attain education, Jaya decided to start a makeshift library in one spare room of their bungalow. By a collective effort of their friends and family, the couple arranged a bookshelf, a soft board and donated books and opened the doors of the ‘Happy Children’s Library’. Words travelled fast in this tiny mountain hamlet and within few weeks’ time, they witnessed many children coming over to leaf through the appealing books that were not in their school syllabus.

With the support of a non-profit organisation, Angelique Foundation and donations from her friends and family, Jaya was able to furnish the library with multiple racks of new books as well as educational games and puzzles.

Today, around 40 kids attend the library every day the attendance of which even surpasses the schools they study in. Jaya has taken the onus of teaching them English while Kripal Singh Bisht, a teacher at a nearby school teaches them Maths.

‘Happy Children’s Library also organises workshops on diverse subjects and Jaya’s husband has also set up a computer lab for the kids. It is because of this simple initiative by the couple that a culture of literary awareness has grown inside the quaint little homes of Seem Village.

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