Books on the Eve Of Christmas

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I was wondering what to contribute ever since I came to know about Friends of Likir. And I am glad I took my time when I discovered libraries were to be set up for the children in Ladakh this new year.

There is a quaint, street bookstore near my house right in the midst of Bombay’s chaotic life. It’s a tranquil place I visit whenever I want to buy books. A young man, Jiten Maurya who is from Uttar Pradesh owns this shop that is sandwiched between a regular residential building and a big grocery store. The shop is in fact inside the parking area and all the books rest on shelves and on the floor. He has the most eclectic book collection and also, a street library for old and new books.

I would often miss the kid’s section, which I have lately found out has little story books, beautifully illustrated books of all shapes and sizes because they were of no use to me.

I went back there one evening, sat and sifted through all the kid’s books. I hand-picked all of them because this is a second hand book shop. There were rare story books some of which are no longer published. While choosing them, I put myself in the shoes of young children who had no exposure or source to such delightful books. I wondered what I’d like to read about if I lived in the high altitude mountains of Ladakh ..and then I knew exactly what to pick! 

Some of the books in the box:  Mr Rabbit and The Lovely Present’ published in 1962 and written by Maurice Sendak, lots of Scholastic books, The Weathervane, Snow White, Kipper, Winnie the Pooh and loads more.

The boy who owns the shop was very kind and helpful, he even asked me “Yeh kiskey liye hain?” I said “ Ek Madam hai joh baccho ko padhatey hain aur woh bohot duur jaaney waley hain. Yeh sab lekar. Toh mera help karo acchey books dhoondney main”. He then sat with me and we wiped all of them clean, erased pencil marks if any and here they are.

When I was done, quite coincidentally I also stumbled upon a book from the classic Mr.Men and Little Miss series by Roger Hargreaves. This one was of Little Miss Helpful. They make them into t-shirts and pillows these days.

A few days later, I was crossing the street and I hear this familiar voice. It was the bookstore boy calling out to tell me that  he’d found 6 more books and his next stock was coming in January. The boy asked, ‘Madam kaisey hai chale gaye Kya Ladakh? I said, ‘Nahi abhi time hai aur Madam tumharey books se bohot khush hai’. Big smile on his face…

Here are some pictures of the place, Jiten and the books. I brought them to Ahmedabad on Christmas Eve.

Nikhil F.

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About Friends of Likir

An initiative to nurture & educate children in isolated villages of Ladakh. Once upon a time a traveller wandered into the high altitude mountainous folds of Ladakh in India. She meandered into a magical village in a valley which had an old monastery on top of a hill. She was enchanted by the serenity of the picturesque village and by the cherubic 'Chungjungs' - the novice monks of the ancient monastery. She noticed that they were really happy but needed some help with their reading. The traveller had to go back home but decided to return soon. Back home she told her friends about the magical village of Likir. She kept her promise .. Friends of Likir a.k.a FoL, is an initiative to nurture and educate children in isolated villages of Ladakh. FoL was born in Likir and so the name remains as a metaphor for acts of loving kindness, creativity, connection and compassion and our children's right to education. Since then, Friends of Likir has joined hands with other isolated and neglected schools in the Ladakh terrain, Indo-China & Indo-Pakistan borders. Thank you for becoming a ‘Friend of Likir’. This year, Friends of Likir branches out to 10 isolated and neglected schools in the Ladakh terrain, Indo-China & Indo-Pakistan borders. Plans for 2012, 15th April onwards: Sourcing and collection of children's books and setting up libraries in 10 schools. Re-designing reading spaces in existing schools Conducting learning modules, art and drama workshops over the next 6 months Providing children with games, toys, sports equipment, art & stationery supplies Medical Camps for vaccinations and treatment of respiratory and skin infections Sponsorships: Their tuition fee, boarding and annual expense. Educational Assistance to schools in remote and drastic environments Supporting Ladakhi teachers with educational resources, teaching aids and training programs. FoL aspires to organically build an integrated network of like-minded individuals that can extend their support through care, love, time, effort, their skills or monetarily. A few ways in which you can help: -Spreading & sharing -Collecting and gifting children's books Please visit the wish lists- http://www.flipkart.com/wishlist/friendsoflikir-4769 http://www.flipkart.com/wishlist/friendsoflikir-1285 -Sponsoring a school library -Sponsoring a child. If you are an individual who would like to volunteer your skills, creativity and time, have training in Montessori methods, experience with young learners, consider yourself a selfless nurturer, love children's books or are a natural story-teller, please write to friendsoflikir@gmail.com with the subject-Volunteer with FoL.

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