Peepal Chhaya Library Project I – Gamaudi
In February 2015, I received a message from Min Bahadur Shahi, manager of the « School Project in Dailekh » for Rato Bangala, a private school based in Kathmandu. Very interested and supportive with the project, he invited me to come in April to finally set up the library in Gamaudi village. A building next to the primary school had been freed for the purpose.
Happily I booked my tickets and prepared myself. After buying all necessary supplies for the equipment of books I wouldn’t be able to find in Nepal, I made my bags and headed on April 1st to the airport to get on the plane !
1/Purchase of books
Once in Kathmandu, work started with two weeks spent in exchanging money, visiting different bookshops to select few of them. With Sanjeev Acharya’s help, I selected the 2000 books to initiate the first collection.
2/Trip to Gamaudi
On D-day, we went on a taxi ride through the streets of Kathmandu in order to pick up all books kept in bookstores. Our driver was very friendly and helpful. Thanks to his knowledge of all shortcuts, we could make it to the buspark within a bit more than an hour and half.
To be able to travel with all books and material, the conductor of bus asked of course for some extra money. There was no possibility to argue with him. After 17 hours of travelling, Bhupendra Pariyar, Min Bahadur Shahi’s colleague in the School Project, was waiting for me the next morning in Surkhet, the biggest city in the Tarai region down to Dailekh. He helped me remove all stuff from the bus. I thought I could then step on the second one for his village. But unfortunately it was already gone. We were in a dilemma. We decided to leave all stuff at the hotel, where he spent the night and go to his village on a long ride on his bike. All books and material would follow the next day on the first morning bus assured us the hotel keeper. But unfortunately it didn’t come as expected. No one in Surkhet was willing to load the bus without advance money.
The first mission was to introduce the project more thoroughly to the community, even if Min Bahadur Shahi had already talked with the locals about it. Together with Bhupendra Pariyar we launched a meeting inviting the school management committee, one VDC member and the forest committee. The outcome was postive. The forest committee engaged itself to provide wood for the furniture. Teachers were willing to collaborate in the cataloging of books.
4/Renovation of the building
The second step was to renovate the room and make it more friendly and safe for books. I made a selection of the useful books already there. Just two piles remained. After removing the old carpet full of dust, sweeping the room, together with Ganesh, one teacher-assistant, we painted the inside walls of the library and put a new carpet.
The same day teachers and a bunch of smilly children brought down the books who finally reached the village. The kids turned out very enthusiastic being part of this small expedition. Everyone was happy and curious. As for me, I was very eager to start the concrete librarian work.
5/Cataloging of books
All room neat and clean, it was then time to begin with the manual registration of books. It took 4 days all in all thanks to the commitment of the principal and teachers. During that time, I was busy drawing the cards, stamping the books, reinforcing the cover by adding special tape on the first page, labelling books. Everyday some curious kids came to watch the progress and give us company.
6/Furniture for the library
Books were piling up. It was high time to call in the carpenters to fix the already existing cupboard which would be used for the aduld books. I handed over the sketching of the furniture for the children books. Two boxes for album stories and one small furniture for documentary books and novels. In one day they got the work done.
7/Equipment of books
Once teachers were done with cataloging of books, for almost two weeks I did book lamination. This was the most arduous part.
A painter was hired to add Peepal Chhaya’s logo as well as “Library” sign on the front door.
The result was all in all quite satisfying even if the little boy from our logo was looking rather angry than happy.
9/Meeting to define rules for the library
After lamination was almost completed, I conducted a meeting with a committee of villagers to define the rules of functioning and lending of the up-coming library. It was decided to give free access to all villagers. Children up to 18 would be free to lend books without having to pay a fee. As for adults 100 Nepali Rupees for a year would be required. The Library would open 6 days a week.
10/Interview for the library position
The next day, interviews were held with few women interested into the librarian position. Among 5 candidates, Deepa Kumari Shahi was selected.
11/Labelling of shelves and ordering of books
I finished the ordering of books and labelling of shelves together with Deepa. Same time I wrote all official documents : house rules, reader’s guide, adult and child membership formulars, reception charter for schools.
12/Trainee of the librarian
The trainee of Deepa Shahi lasted for a full week. I explained her about the different types of books one can find, the classification of them in a library, how to catalog them by issuing a card with main information on it, how to equip them. We talked about the activities I wanted her to conduct : story telling for children and school classes and literacy classes once a week. We decided about her schedule and salary as well.
13/Inauguration of the library
Finally the community library opened on a saturday by handing over the key to the management committee represented by its president Bhupendra Pariyar. The first registrations took place. The atmosphere was wonderful. Children were so excited to finally be able to touch and read the books. Curious and shy women came in to sit down among children and start reading. Few men and women came out with books in their hands. The dream became real.
Since the opening of the library, Deepa has been dedicated and launched four literacy classes a month, as well as storytelling every week.
The next aim of Peepal Chhaya Nepal is to find the way to make it fully sustainable in the long run. We still need financial support for the salary of librarian as well as the purchase of new books. If you want to give a helping hand don’t hesitate to donate through paypal. Even a small donation of 5€ can make a change.
Dherei Dhanyabaad for reading and feeling concerned…
Founder of Peepal Chhaya Nepal