Hello, I am Vaani Dua, an architect by profession and a teacher by choice. I would like to share with you how I started a small library at my place for the kids in my community and how much is it giving back to me. I grew up in a middle class family where academics was of primary importance. My parents never brought us books. We completely missed our parents reading stories to us. All my school life was confined to only text books. It was in college that I discovered a whole new world of books. I would borrow books from my classmates and read on. From Harry Potters to the classics and even the Sidney Sheldons.
Last year, one day it just dawned tome that people in my colony are still the same. Not many kids would be reading interesting books. My own younger cousin never did that. Nor did her parents read her stories. I knew there is lackof public libraries in our city. So I thought of starting a small one at my place. I got two boxfull of books from my friend’s daughter and that’s how we started.
I called in kids for learning crafts but that didn’t attract many so I came up with learning communication skills and it was the appropriate marketing strategy I came up with. Parents started sending their kids. And since it was free of cost, they were happier. Then, I met Mridula of Community Library Project and we got a few hundred books added to our small collection. We started with three kids a year ago and within few months we were at 30. Now, every Sunday, these kids swarm up to my room, giggling with joy.
To make space for the growing no. of kids, I had to remove my bed from the room. We engage them for 2 hours in some craft activities and creative visualisations and even Zumba. Kids come from all kinds of backgrounds, from the govt. school goers to the slum dwellers and the elite are equally welcomed. We follow the rules here. The only rule is to treat everyone with love. No complaints and no fighting.
Earlier, they (middle class kids) were hesitant to mix up with "Muslim kids" or the "slum dwellers", but since the rule is that you make groups with people you don’t know, things began to change gradually. The boundaries were blurred and we have a bunch of energetic kids who call themselves Free Spirited Kids. We read a story and then in groups, they role-play and enact it. Sometimes, they make up their own stories and we engage them in a range of activities from Crafts to Zumba. They get the books issued every week. I have stamped each book with a number which helps me to keep the library records. Luckily enough, I have got 3 volunteers from my neighbourhood who come and assist me handling the kids. This weekly ritual helps me unwind and gives me immense happiness. Here are a few glimpses of the happiness overdose we go through every Sunday.
[Vaani Dua, is an architect by profession with masters in architecture. She has an experience of over 11 years which includes professional practice and teaching. She is currently an Associate Professor teaching Interior Architecture students in Delhi. She is also a meditation practitioner from past 14 years and has actively engaged in sharing her experiences. She spent one year in UAE teaching meditation and conducting various self-help and motivational workshops for youth. She loves to cook, read, travel and meet new people. She encourages people around her to shift the screen of their awareness from the outer ego to the inner consciousness and live with greater joy! ]