Via Deccan Herald
Not so long ago, three young girls decided to give underprivileged children what no one could ever take back from them: Rivetting stories. And from there, a journey to unexplored worlds.
Janani Ramachandran, Zonu Reddy and Dhivya Perumal – all 12th standard students of The International School, Bangalore – have a mission. “It’s to improve the intellectual landscape of underprivileged schools,” says Zonu. “And create as many scholars as we can,” says Dhivya. And it’s called Operation Education or OPED for short.
OPED is a student-run volunteer organisation that is the bridge between those who have books and have no use for them and those who don’t but could do with them. As a result of residential book drives and donations from publishers and distributors, they’ve managed to set up libraries in eight underprivileged schools in Bangalore.
The young team maintains a rotating library system with sets of books exchanged from one school to another every few months. They also hold weekly interactive reading sessions in the schools to engage the children and inculcate in them the reading habit.
“Many of these children are poor but these books will take them to new worlds and places,” says Dhivya.
OPED is Janani’s brainchild. “Having grown up in the United States, I was accustomed to having my city filled with local public libraries. Reading opened my mind to worlds that I would never have discovered otherwise. But on moving to Bangalore, I realised that there were no free public libraries in my area, Whitefield. It struck me that unlike fortunate people like myself, students in poor schools simply do not have the opportunities to read anything beyond their textbooks.”
That thought prompted Janani to approach her school principal in February 2008 who encouraged her to prepare a detailed plan. The school also made an initial contribution of 1,000 books.
Later, while attending a summer course called Leadership in Law at Columbia University, New York, Janani and a group of her classmates developed the idea further as part of a project to take action in the local community.
Read their story here.