This is the story of a village called Bendaluwa in the Ratnapura district (Sri Lanka) where we helped this village start a new chapter with a library called “Erudite Institute” (Named as “Pragna Shalika” in Sinhala). There are many families in the village who struggle to find a way to educate their children. We wanted to help them within our capacity to get a proper education, so they have a way to a better life. Considering what was possible within our capacity, we decided to donate books to ten students from the village to meet their requirement of school supplies.
With this in mind, we approached immediate relatives and very close friends for voluntary donations. The result was a collection large enough to support a hundred children instead of the original ten. We were thrilled with the success of our initiative and we got such a warm response from the villagers. However, the challenge in a close-knit community like ours is figuring out who needs help the most. Therefore, we wanted to find a more democratic way of offering help to anyone from the community without bias.
We came up with the idea of starting a library for the village. We set out “3 Actions of Pillars” for theproject, based on the broad idea of supporting children’s education. We wanted to foster a culture of reading as it provides a solid foundation for all forms of education and give the children a chance to improve their English literacy skills. “You need English to succeed in your career. Sadly, it’s rare to see students in the village scoring a bare minimum of fifty marks during their exams,” hence the reason as to why developing English language skills is so important. In the future, we also intend to enhance the children’s information technology skills, develop leadership skills and nurture family and rural economy as a long term objective.
We refurbished a small building together within the community and with much effort were able to set up the library. Named “Pragna Shalika” or the Erudite Institute, it is the first library in the village. Library operates 4 days per week under an established set of guidelines with the view of bringing some discipline and to offer a flavour of how a real library operates. Since the opening of the library more than 5000 books have been borrowed or circulated within first 11 months, which is proof that if it takes a village to raise a child, it certainly takes a library to raise the outlook of a village. No age limit has been set for the library membership since the objective is to encourage reading among all age groups. Since the library opened its doors to the community it has become a hub of learning, as the children and the rest of the village slowly take their first steps towards embracing a culture of reading which fosters a healthy curiosity and an open mind – both essential for sustainable growth and development.Keeping the library as the foundation for their community initiatives, we are expanding the reachof their helping hands, with scholarships for university students, sporting equipment for thechildren who excel in sports and workshops to uplift English literacy levels.
You could extend a helping hand by donating books to the library, and sponsoring student’s annual books requirements
You could help by making the library a space of development, by organizing workshops on English education for the children
You could help us by creating awareness and helping to find donors.
We hope you would be inspired to make the world a better place