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29 TH March, 2009
My visit to the Vilaage-Library Movement, Panpoee, Villages in Pune
The name of this DISEASE/EPIDEMIC…is called READTITIS
The treatment of this disease is…………….BOOKS! BOOKS ! and More BOOKS!
The etiology of this disease is…… not some resistant weird virus.
But an amazing ,elderly couple named Nirmal and Sharad Pendharkar …..the Founder/Brain Child of the PANPOEE LIBRARY MOVEMENT.
Panpoee means…fountain of Knowledge !
This started 3 yrs ago…with just 25 books in a cloth bag…. sent to the village.
Who would have ever imagined?…that these 25 books in a cloth bag..would mushroom into an uncontrollable …epidemic, called READITITIS
I Cant find any other way to describe it ! Like Vikram Dutt said…. It is MIND BOGGLING !
One has to experience it to understand it .
About Niramal and Sharad Pendharkar
They are the parents of HOH committee member, Sumant
What a Dynamic energized couple…specially the mom, Nirmal. They started this humble project, 3yrs ago in their home ,with their own personal funds .They started by selecting books of rhymes, stories, pictures for village children..to hold, handle and gaze at ! They put this in water proof canvas bags..which was the birth of the portable library…with NO infra structure !
They were surprised at the response..The kids LOVED it, The parents Loved it…The Grand Parents LOVED it . There was an unquenchable thirst ..they wanted MORE and MORE.!
It was unstoppable….out of control ! Pampoee reached over 80 villages with over 4000 books.
Last year HOH joined this movement….and thanks to HOH ..added another 5000 books …reaching out to 40 centers…to upto 250 villages …WOW !
Today I visited 3 villages , in the outskirts of of Pune to witness this phenomenon….First hand
My visit to Somatane
I was impressed by the tiny tots..all holding books . There were books…books every where!
I met the teacher Swati Phatak…who carries these cloth bags full of books and walks for miles to remote villages The villagers welcome her as a a HERO ! She reads to the villagers. The villagers who can read…literally devour the books. It is treated like a gift from the Gods! She stays upto 3 hrs…but it is not enough …they want MORE !. Some beg to keep the books for a day..for which a meager fee of Rs 10/yr is charged. Some young kids are willing to pay this from their meager earnings!
My visit to BAALWAADI( Hut School )in Dhamane Village
I entered a Baal Waadi school ..which is a basic hut!. … The kids were sitting on the floor. I asked them to read..and they would NOT stop !They were barely 10 yrs old. I interviewed them and actually got a “complex”… I felt very “unread” compared to them. They all rattled off…so many names of books…
Nirmal and Sharad take great pains in finding quality books on every subject….specially inspirational leaders. ..like Obama ! The books are updated.
I was impressed by the simple, primitive method of keeping track and monitoring the progress of the child .
After the book is read, the child writes a brief book report..which is kept on file.
I got to read some book reports ..and I was just blown away!
A 10 yr old boy had written….”I learned that Goodness comes from inside…and by doing good to others..it brings goodness..” ..So profound ! for a 10 yr old village boy
Some kids are so inspired by the inspirational leaders…and want to become like them. They gave speeches, quoting these leaders.
I can go on and on…. I am totally amazed at this phenomenon.!
These kids have NO distraction…no TV, no video games, no cell phones, computers….NOTHING ! They have soft copy books…that’s all ! They hold it and gaze at at the pictures… that are just bare bones. Caricature .rarely in color !
After seeing this… I can say with confidence… these 10yr old baal Waadi kids are more well read than any 10 yr old kid in the US or City kid of India .
This is truly a miracle !!