Children use their voice for change
“As soon as I open the door, the children will rush in to select books!” grins Akkammal. “We children never actually had a place to call our own and we did not know that books could be so interesting!”
About 121 families live in Akkammal’s remote agricultural village. Before the library was built, most of the parents, not having been to school, weren’t supportive of their children’s education, preferring them to work or do chores.
“After the school hours we used to take care of our cattle and fetch firewood,” says Akkammal. “Now, not only the children but also our school teachers use the library whenever they are free. This is the only recreational and knowledge haven in the whole village for all of us!” Children at the library talked of how the books have changed not just their lives, but the attitudes of parents, too.
“My father is a farmer and he cannot read or write,” shares 13-year-old Devisakkammal, “so, when I read a story on the consequences of contamination and poisoning from insecticide, I told my father that whenever he finished spraying insecticide for the crops, it was vital for him to wash his face, hands and body with soap before he touched water or food. Thanks to that book I was able to caution my father, and now I know our whole family will be safe from such contamination.”
“I love nature and get very upset when people make our village dirty,” shares 13-year-old Pappasakkammal. “One evening when we were having dinner, I told my parents a story I had read in one of the books about a beautiful tree that had lost all its leaves and branches because the people of the village kept dumping plastic bags near its roots.” She says that from that day forward, her entire family stopped using plastic bags.“THANKFULLY, NOW THERE IS A SENSE OF SECURITY AMONG MY FAMILY AND THE ENTIRE VILLAGE!”
“The book helped me realize that we must protect our surroundings to be able to feel safe from environmental hazards,” says Pappasakkammal. “Thankfully, now there is a sense of security among my family and the entire village.”
ChildVoice Spring 2014