Every child in this world deserves to have access to the simple pleasures of life- healthy food, nurturing environment, education and story books, and friends. However, not every child is fortunate enough to have these available to them. One of the most important aids to have a happy childhood are books. They help in developing personalities and mental strength.
Bookwallah Organization is a non-profit organization, based in the US, which brings accessibility of storybooks to orphans and children who have been through trauma thereby providing a safe haven to them. The magic of these storybooks ensures that hope and imagination are kept alive. The aim of the organization is to empower, heal and transform these children through storybooks so that they don’t stop believing in the greater good and rebuild their lives.
The CEO and Founder of Bookwallah Organisation, Seema Jacob, realised that books can be most helpful as a first intervention tool. But it was necessary to ensure sustenance. Thus, Bookwallah project was born. The protagonists of books are considered to be idols and that’s how Bookwallah reaches out to children. These kids get inspired from the characters who have integrity, courage and passion- so that the children try to achieve and hope for better. While reading a book, readers identify themselves with the main lead. They relate to the life struggles of the characters. The characters get empowered and transformed thereby recreating their own life.
This is a great way of discovering oneself and to learn to think abstractly and that is exactly what Bookwallah aims for the children to develop. To achieve this, they have established libraries in developing countries. In India, there are 15 of them- 8 in Mumbai, 2 in Pune, 2 in Bengaluru, and 3 in Mangalore. The volunteers of Bookwallah assist children and help them by storytelling, book reading and conducting activities in orphanages on weekends.
They want the children to dream and hope for a better future. Bookwallah aims to help children realise that their life can change for good if they believe and work hard for it. This incredible program is building the literacy, imagination and reading habits of children.
Kalyan Arvind Dubai, the Vice- President, Bookwallah Organization- Pune, shares that he found out about Bookwallah while going through Bookwallah Organization Facebook page. He had always wanted to contribute to the social cause but never found the right direction. When he found out about the great initiative of Bookwallah, he got attracted towards it.
The organisation corporates with Asian paints, Disney India, Tata motors, Pratha, books etc. A new library has been set up by the Mumbai team in Mankhurd. There are plans to build more libraries in orphanages in pan India.
One of the success story of their library project is the story of a girl who was abused by her biological father. She used to be angry and disturbed but after a year, she made a drawing of ducks swimming in water and one isolated duck flying away. When asked she explained that earlier the duck was in the river but now sometimes she can fly, she is free and has more power. The girl was brave and saved her sister too.
The beautiful world of Bookwallah is rewarding. Kalyan has now become more caring and sensitive and has learnt to make a difference which will have long-term impacts on his life. The organization can also help develop enthusiasm, confidence and leadership skills.
The various projects that Bookwallah has undertaken include art and activity. The library shelves are open, making the books accessible to them. The progress of children is kept under check using scientific evaluation metrics and thus statistical data is derived. They also conduct book donation drives and are an official NGO partner at college events. Bookwallah Organisation held a storytelling night at IIT Mumbai’s Mood Indigo Festival in 2015. Employee growth is also kept in mind and role playing, simulations, group discussions. lectures, team exercises are incorporated. Volunteers interact with experts to work on their skills by attending training programs and workshops.
Kalyan believes that one should never give up trying and pushing oneself. He feels good when he pushes his comfort zone. It is important to develop the inner strength to improve one’s life. Bookwallah Organization has added a true meaning to his life.
One of his fondest experiences with the organisation is when he helped a small girl who was having trouble while sketching. The girl grew fond of him and he still admires her magnetic charm. His message to the society , Helping others, helping oneself, is truly inspiring.