L. Renganathan

Trust opens libraries for rural kids

KARUR: “Are these books for me? Can I go through them in this library whenever I can?” asked a child with a haggard yet eager look in ragged clothing, even as the mildly trembling hands flipped through the pages of a fairy tale book in Tamil at Periyathirumangalam village in the district on Sunday. The occasion was the opening of new libraries for the benefit of rural children by the Welfare Initiative Towards Healthy and Agile India (WITHAI) Trust.

Hundreds of more such children were thoroughly enjoying themselves and having fun while they quietly marvelled at their own innovative work in the form of painting, clay modelling, etc, happy that they have a dais to parade their innate talent.

“We have christened the venture Butterfly Libraries. Our aim is to establish libraries exclusively for children in the rural areas who do not have proper forum to nurture and showcase their talent. The name signifies the child’s colourful and limitless innovation and imagination. I cannot view the butterflies and children apart from each other and thus the name fits the bill,” says the trustee of the WITHAI Trust and progressive writer, S. Jothimani, who took the initiative to open the libraries.

The WITHAI Trust has opened such children’s rural libraries at Chinnatharapuram and K. Paramathi villages apart from Periyathirumangalam. The aim is to ensure that these places should not remain mere libraries but should provide the space to spur and nurture the child’s innate talents, an idea mostly missing in today’s education scene, Ms. Jothimani adds. She says that camps would be conducted at the “Butterfly Libraries” periodically to help the children parade their talent and also to encourage them to hone their skills.

Ms. Jothimani, a former Panchayat Union Councillor, conducted classes for school children at a time when the Parent Teachers’ Associations could not afford to meet the expenses of additional teachers to fill the existing vacancies in schools.

She found a like-minded team to assist in her venture. Four information technology professionals and a film director came to her help in furthering the project. They view the library also as a vehicle to strengthen the children’s roots and help them harness the emerging technologies to meet future challenges.

She points out that there were just a few children’s books in Tamil and even they are hard to come by in rural areas.

Talent encouragement workshop

On the occasion a talent encouragement workshop was conducted under the stewardship of renowned artiste Viswam. Students from the College of Fine Arts, Chennai, trained the students in painting, clay modelling, balloon painting, while sessions on story telling and film screening were conducted.

Over 1,000 students took part in the workshop and their eagerness could hardly hide the fact that given an opportunity the rural children would excel in any field.

The children’s works were exhibited at the Government Primary School, K. Paramathi.

Sahitya Akademi award winner writer Tamil Nadan, national awardee in designing Achuta Rao and others participated.