READ Nepal is an NGO that establishes libraries throughout rural Nepal to encourage a love of reading and learning for Nepalese children. The libraries have also become a resource centre for their communities. Since the early 1990s they have established sixty-two such libraries throughout Nepal.
Deepa Subedi coordinates one of these libraries not far from the brick kilns where we have been working. She came to our training session at the Nepal School of Social Work last year and was very keen for us to come and run workshops at the library. We were happy to oblige and ran our first class there on Saturday 23rd January.
The aim of our workshop was to promote reading and through a love of stories and story telling, foster the imagination.
The children that came to workshop were all from around the local area. They seemed to be from all walks of life. Except from the brick kilns. These children all went to regular school. Some were just the local government school, others went to schools which are privately run. In stark contrast to the brick kiln participants they were able to grasp concepts and ideas very quickly. We have come to the realisation the bad schooling is better than no schooling, but good schooling is much better than bad schooling.
We gathered the children together and I told them a story in English, with our friend Shivani Saria (also formally from The Nepal School of Social Work} translating it into Nepali.
The story we used came from a book in their library. It was a Kenyan story titled “The Crocodile and The Ostrich”. It was about how the ostrich got its long neck – by being silly enough to put its head into a crocodile’s mouth when asked to check the crocodiles aching tooth. The crocodile clamped its jaw on the ostrich’s then short neck. by pulling itself as hard as it could to get out of the crocodile’s mouth, it stretched its neck to its present long length. The story had plenty of animal characters, including an elephant, baboon and a deer. All set against an exotic African jungle landscape. The children’s imagination was stimulated.
In the drama, we looked at the movements and characteristics of these animals as well as role-playing them. It took a little encouragement, but soon they all found ways of moving and sounding as the various creatures in the story. There was of course joyous laughter when they had the opportunity see each other perform.
In the art session Anne taught them how to make concertina books, and how to use colour. As she has often done she teaches new and young artists to choose a family of colours, warm or cool. Some were even able to ask her questions about primary colours. The children made their books inspired by the tale. She encouraged them to make them into pop-up books by cutting out the animal characters and scenes.
These children grabbed the opportunity, that through READ Nepal, we could provide them and they had enough education and confidence to make it their own. READ are really encouraging the education that is needed in this country.
Artists in Community International’s objectives are creativity, education and wellbeing. We received most of the funds for this project through the generous donations of many supporters through our crowd-sourcing campaign. But this is an unsustainable method of funding our work. We are looking for donors to contribute funds to sponsor future programs – are you or do you know anyone in a position to help? Please contact us.