Sunday, May 25, 2008

Your chance to contribute and make a difference

If you read my earlier blog about running the Sunfeast Marathon, you will see that it was something which I always wanted to do. Luckily, I got a chance to do it and had an awesome time doing it. When I completed, I was on a high. Social work, NGOish stuff is something that all of us would have wanted to do at sometime. Now my sister Sudha is giving me and all of us a chance to do something that will make a difference.

She is doing a project as part of her advanced course at Landmark Education. My friends and colleagues have heard me talk about the work Landmark does and that I recommend it highly. However, this is not about Landmark but about the project she is doing which is with Akshara Foundation.

By it's own definition, Akshara Foundation "is a Bangalore-based Public Charitable Trust with the mission to ensure that every child is in school and learning well". It was established in 2000. It has illustrious members on the Board who have provided valuable insight and direction and already made a mark with the work they are doing. What I like about the programmes they run is that it is very practical or to quote "designed to be low cost, scalable, replicable and sustainable" Also, somewhere some kid will get a chance at a better life because he or she could get a better education.

The project Sudha is doing comes under "Library Programme". Akshara Foundation has a network of libraries in schools and communities. What they plan to achieve with the libraries is inculcate a reading habit among children. This means that the learning and language skills learnt by them do not fade away but is enhanced every time they visit the library. An important point here is that an Akshara-appointed librarian is always available on site for children. All the librarians have recently been trained to conduct language-based exercises and puzzles to expand children’s vocabulary.

Coming to our part in this, Sudha intends to do a book collection drive with the aim of collecting 200 children's books by June 20th. You are welcome to donate children's books in English, Hindi, Kannada, Urdu, Telugu or Tamil. These will be given to Akshara who will place them in various school libraries under their scheme. The action plan is
- once you collect the books for donation, mail her at or me at and we will make arrangements to pick it up
- forward this link to all the people you can think of who want to and will help
- follow up with them and urge them to contribute to a good cause

Libraries are not only about books. They are hubs of learning. The Library Programme is going to be expanded in a major way in the academic year, 2007-2008. Akshara Foundation will partner with the Government of Karnataka to establish 400 libraries in government primary schools in Bangalore where every child from the 2nd to the 7th standard will participate. These libraries will serve the learning needs of all the 1410 government primary schools in Bangalore Urban District. Akshara plans to make each of its 400 libraries a complete world of learning with books, computers, CDs, games and innovative activities.

It needn't stop here for you. Akshara has donor programmes where you can monetarily sponsor a pre-school or a library. They also have a volunteer program which will give you a hands-on experience with the work they do. For more details do check out their website at It is a real eye-opener.

1 comment:

Matt said...

Hey, I met all my neighbours today to ask them to contribute. It was a bit nerve-wracking but the first people were very warm and invited me in. After that it was fine. Although they didn't have any books currently, they all promised to check and get back. So just go ahead and ask.