This is the second of a two-part guest blogger series from READ Nepal volunteer Melanie Avery on her experience with READ Global in Nepal.
Have you ever wondered what a READ Center looks like?
I hadn’t even heard of a READ Center until this year when I started volunteering at the non-profit organization READ Global in Nepal.
An Australian ex-pat living and working in Nepal, I came across READ when my partner and I were looking for a new apartment. The sign was unassuming but, with an interest in community development and a love for books and reading, it seemed the perfect match to me.
On my very first day volunteering at READ, I was lucky enough to be taken to the READ Model Center at Badikhel Library. Here’s a look at what it’s all about:
As you enter you will find rows and rows of shelves stacked high with books and resource materials. Typical of a library, and yet titles are offered in Nepali and regional dialects such as Newari, Magar, Rai and Gurung, as well as books in English and Hindi.
The children’s section at a READ Center offers more resources and more active learning opportunities than are available at many local schools.
In the women’s section, you will find a network of friendships and support groups, necessary to lay the foundation stones for any strong community.
The audio-visual and information technology sections are a lifeline for the community – opening communication channels to the outside world and providing opportunities to learn for those who are illiterate.
A safe, clean, and comfortable meeting space has become a valuable asset for many communities, and is available free for residents use or for public hire.
A sustaining enterprise, a business that gives local villagers an income and that also supports the library in its daily operations. Profits are returned to the community, through the READ Model Center. At Badikhel, the sustaining enterprise is a souvenir and handicrafts shop, stocking locally made products including woven baskets, scarves, jewelry, honey, tea, and aromatic blends of spices.
When I started volunteering with READ Nepal, I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve volunteered in a number of organizations here (in Nepal) and have been both impressed and disappointed.
The READ Center at Badikhel is one that has impressed.
Not least for the infrastructure and resources, but for the community meeting taking place as I made my tour, for the children darting in and out, the old man, grey-haired, with enormous glasses reaching for his daily paper, and the gathering of teens on the front stairs.
It’s a facility in which the community has taken ownership and the staff has taken pride, and that is what makes the Center so impressive to me.
About the guest author:
Melanie Avery, READ Nepal Volunteer
I’m an expat Australian living with my long-term Nepali partner Kendra Gandharba in Kathmandu. I spent 6 months volunteering in India in 2012, during which time I met Kendra who studied there as a music therapist and gained an interest in Community Development. Prior to my time in India and Nepal, I worked as an Administrative Officer with the Outback Queensland Tourism Association, and various local government offices in Longreach, Queensland. I have completed a Bachelors of Business Administration (Management) through James Cook University and a Certificate of Arts in Asian Studies through University of Melbourne – It’s a big wide world and I’ve come a long, long way but, wouldn’t change a thing 🙂