Idinjar’s children to get a reading space

Children at the Kaliyarangu camp at Idinjar in which Kanal was involved.

Children at the Kaliyarangu camp at Idinjar in which Kanal was involved.

On June 24, the last day of the ongoing Reading Week celebrations, a reading space will be opened at Idinjar, a tribal settlement in Peringamala panchayat in the district.

The reading space is being set up Kanal Innovations, a charitable organisation that works among school and college students, as part of its ‘Njangalkkum oru vayana idam’ programme.

Idinjar and some other settlements in the tribal belt of the district were in the news few months ago for a series of suicides by young girls there. Kanal wants the reading space to be a ray of hope for the tribal community that continues to remain marginalised despite the government’s efforts.

Catalyst for change

Adolescents and youth in the tribal settlements are very vulnerable to drug abuse, alcoholism, sexual exploitation, traps of cyberspace, and other nefarious activities. The reading space, being set up in association with Government Tribal High School, Idinjar, will be a catalyst for change, for it will be run by children for children. Even the space for the library is found by children, says Anson Alexander of Kanal.

The Idinjar reading space will be the seventh set up by Kanal. The first was set up at Vettikavala, near Kottarakara, in 2017, an area that saw a large number of child marriages. Kanal’s reading spaces are set up in areas where problems largely ignored by society exist. The other reading spaces are at Attappady’s Nakkupathi, Jellipara, and Daivakundu; Poonthura in the capital district; and at Halagayanahundi near Mysore in Karnataka. These reading spaces are not like conventional libraries; the idea is that books become weapons in the struggle for rights. So they are more than a space for reading books, which are sourced by Kanal. Discussions and awareness programmes on problems faced by children are held by Kanal to equip them to find solutions to these. Stories, folk songs and art, theatre, painting, and play are some of the ways used by the Kanal team to communicate with the children.

Students’ collective

Kanal was involved in a camp conducted by the Thiruvananthapuram district child protection unit (DCPU) and the Scheduled Tribe Development department in the wake of the suicides in the tribal belt. Nearly 60 adolescents participated in the camp. Later, telecounselling was conducted for the parents of these adolescents who expressed the need for a reading space there. So, Kanal formed a collective of students from the Idinjar tribal school, and the collective will run the reading space. Kanal will arrange year-long training programmes for the adolescents. These include life skill training, personality development and confidence boosting sessions, self-defence training to counter sexual violence, online safety, and that for improving mental health.

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Printable version | Aug 13, 2022 2:22:47 pm |