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Couple’s library ‘start-up’ gives free books to kids in 4 States

In the past two years, more than 2 lakh books have been sent to Prerna Book Banks, which has racked up 4,500 members.

MEERUT: Amita Sharma, 32, comes from a rural part of Modinagar, 25 km from Meerut. A postgraduate degree holder, for years she was concerned about children who had the aptitude and talent but no access to books.

One day in 2016, in collaboration with her husband, she decided to do something about it. The couple’s free library project for the underprivileged — Prerna Book Banks — has now expanded to four states and covers more than 40 rural areas. They have a small army of volunteers.

The movement began two years ago, when Amita discussed the matter with her husband Sanjay, 35.

“I still remember when we used to walk more than 2km to attend school. So many poor children would watch us with eyes full of longing to own a bag full of books. We couldn’t do anything for them then, but now we can,” Amita said.

“Amita and I visit schools and colleges and encourage students to give away books they no longer need. The services are completely free,” Sanjay said.

The endeavour had few takers initially. “It was a novel concept and people were reluctant to be a part of it,” Sanjay added.

Lending out space for something as insignificant to them as a library was not accepted easily. Gradually volunteers — majority of them women and young girls — came forward to shoulder the responsibility. Change came sooner than they thought.

Vandana Tyagi, a 19-year-old BA student from Nagla Khu village in Modinagar, said, “The day Sanjay bhaiyya and Amita didi came to our village and proposed a library a year ago, I was thrilled and volunteered to help.”

For Vishakha Devi, 35, a housewife in Patla (Ghaziabad), her life has a purpose now. “I am a triple MA and today my education is being used for something. When this concept was communicated to us, we gave one room for the library. Gradually children began coming and today we have around 70 kids with us,” she said as Kumari Arzoo, 15, a member of the library and student of class IX, smiled. “I like coming here,” she said.

Jagbeer Singh of Nagla Khu village told TOI, “Initially we were reluctant, but now we understand how fruitful this can be.”
In the last two years, more than 2 lakh books have been sent to Prerna Book Banks, which has 4,500 members. As of now, Ghaziabad has 15 libraries, Meerut (8), Uttarakhand (3), Delhi (4) and Haryana (1)

Sandeep Rai| TNN | Nov 27, 2018

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