Over the last three weeks, for some 10 children of Deepam West Mambalam, it has been an experience as interesting as it was inspiring. The children were treated to a visit to a Library so near their school that it’s almost like an extension to their class-room.
A few weeks ago, one of our volunteers came to know of a small library in an apartment next to the school where Deepam WM functions. This library – called Sri Chakra Library -- is run by Karthik, a young guy who holds Master’s degree in English and History and an M.Phil degree too. He is differently abled,having restricted mobility. The volunteers of WM centre got to meet him in April and were impressed with his lively chat.
It was planned to take Deepam WM kids in batches to the Library to get them inspired and to make Karthik happier (he is ever happy with a cheerful smile on his face all the time). We then spoke to the school HM, obtained her permission and left word with Karthik's mom about our plan to bring few children to the Library on a Saturday. She and her son were only too glad to say 'Yes'.
All the books in Karthik’s collection have been accumulated by him over the past many years and maintained with loving care. These books are stacked in a neat way. There are books to take you down memory lane, books that you had always wanted to read but never got round to it, books that today’s youngsters would like to read and – this is where Deepam WM and its children come in -- loads of books and magazines (in English and Tamil) specially meant for school-going children.
Here’s what Maduravalli ma’am of WM Centerhas to say on how she sold the idea to the children she was sitting with on 6th April and her own experience at the Library.
“This morning, when I was sitting with the six girls of V standard, I announced that if they give correct answers for all the revision exercises planned, then a visit to a library will happen. They got so excited and did unusually well in the revision exercises. Just before the visit, I briefed them about Karthik and asked them to greet him before they start reading the books. The children were visibly happy to do it when we reached there, what with Karthik's infectious smile having that magical effect. They scanned through the kids' books that his mom had kept on the table, and picked one each. Though most of them were quite high for their usual reading abilities, they did attempt and when I found a very interesting book titled 'Colour clown comes to town', I replicated Deepam's library session there - reading it out to them and the kids enjoyed it so well.
“While putting back the books on the table, they noticed that there was a huge Certificate framed and displayed at their sight level. It was the "Young Achiever Award' given to Karthik by Rotary Club on 26th March this year. It had a short write-up about him and when I read it out to the kids, they came up with an "Aaahh...' on hearing that he was the school topper in Advanced English and History in his 12th Std Board Examinations.
“Then we all left the 'mini library' thanking Karthik and his mom for the wonderful experience. I am sure the kids will remember this day forever. I reminded the children that with a strong will, if Karthik can overcome so many obstacles and achieve this much, they can do a lot more. Even as I am writing these words I am able to recall the wonderful expression that I saw in the eyes of those children today.”
On 13th, another batch of children was taken to this Library and they spent some quality time there for about half-hour, clearly enjoying every single minute of it. And again on 20th, one more visit was arranged, when the children wished to have a photograph taken with Karthik.
Karthik himself was so happy that, in his mail to Madhu ma’am, he wrote,
“i am karthik i run a lending library at home madhu mam made my house a learning hub by bringing the kids here they catch wat is being taught very fast and are very bright madhu mam at the end of the class always asks the kids to read a caption abt me but she is energetic and enthusiastic as kids and her friend vasanthi mam is also an amazing person over all whole team is doing great job proud to do my bit”
And the children?As always, when sitting with books, they were quite excited and so it was during every visit. After exchanging greetings with Karthik they would proceed straight to the section allotted for them (a sofa / table on which books are neatly arranged and kept) – where they are sure to find many of their favorite titles.
Even long after the visit, their excitement would linger on, eyes alight.Probably with the thought of the story they’d just read or because they’ve found a treasure trove and a friend just next door.