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November 21, 2012

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November 21, 2012

READ has achieved an enormous task in very little time by Bhutan standards. It had created several libraries and centres in disadvantaged communities, it has enpowered the local people by giving them means of living and responsabilities and it has created a name for READ throughout Bhutan.

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Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

A lot

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

November 21, 2012

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November 21, 2012

READ Bhutan has a center in my village in Rongthung, Trashigang, Bhutan. The READ center has created the possibility for our children in the village to access books in its library and also internet to kids who would otherwise never have had access. It has enabled the kids to understand the world at large and i am confident that we will see great results in a few years. Further the model of ensuring that the center is self sufficient by funding business activity in the community which has to fund the day to day operational cost of the center is a great way to create economic opportunity for the members of the community and also to ensure that the center does not become reliant on READ for its future funding requirement. Great going READ Bhutan hope you able to establish many new centers in Bhutan in the future.

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Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

November 21, 2012

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November 21, 2012

READ Global has played an integral role in the start-up of Empower Generation, a social enterprise that supports women-led renewable energy businesses in Nepal. Since the very beginning, it has been a pleasure to work with READ Nepal. They are very knowledgable and helpful and are the ones that introduced us to the communities we are now working with. They are our most valuable partner and through them we are able to access communities, using the libraries as a platform to create awareness about the benefits of renewable energy technology and social enterprise.

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How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Quite well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

A lot

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

November 20, 2012

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November 20, 2012

From a travel article I worte after visitng Nepal: NEPAL: CHANGING LIVES ONE LIBRARY AT A TIME –
At age 52, Tulasi Shrestha, whose parents wouldn’t let her attend school because she was a girl, is finally learning to read. Shikha Gauchan, after receiving training on a computer, has vastly
increased her business to foreign trekkers by promoting her guesthouse on Facebook. Children who once couldn’t pass the entrance exams to further their education have so excelled that the community built a secondary-level school to accommodate them.
All of this is thanks to READ (Rural Education and Development) Global, which is transforming the lives of villagers throughout Nepal. READ is an independent 501(c)3 created in 1991 by the tour company Myths and Mountains. Although Myths and Mountains conducts tours to as many as 17 different countries, visiting the READ libraries of Nepal adds a whole new dimension to traditional sightseeing itineraries.
I early on recognized that the term “library” was a misnomer; “community resource center” is a much more accurate description. Yes, there are books –- numbering from 900 in the smaller centers to 8000 and growing, in Nepalese, English and Hindi, in the larger ones -– but the list of services offered, which vary according to the specific needs of the village, include literacy classes, computer training, early childhood education and day care, women’s empowerment programs, micro-financing and credit services, health, nutrition and AIDS-awareness information and more.
But first, some background. Dr. Antonia (Toni) Neubauer, president of Myths and Mountains, first visited Nepal in 1983, and started her tour company five years later. During a trek to the Everest region that same year, knowing she wanted to give something back to the country she had come to love, she asked her guide, Domi Lama Sherpa, “What is it your village needs most?” His reply: a library.
She started collecting money herself and then through Myths and Mountains. As a result, 8 porters carried 900 books over a 12,000 foot pass into the remote village of Junbesi, and READ's first Community Library and Resource Center opened in Domi’s hometown in 1991. He moved to New York shortly thereafter and does not know that he has since become a national hero.
Early on, Toni learned of other well-meaning efforts in many countries which ultimately failed because they had been started and abandoned without becoming economically viable. A local headmaster told her, “Westerners build us clinics, build us schools and then leave and expect us to take care of them, but we are just poor farmers.” And she realized that although “we had the best of intentions, we were just creating liabilities for a village rather than funding an asset.” From the beginning she knew that if the library (read Community Resource Center) was not self-sustaining, it would not work; it had to be an economic asset as well as a social and educational one.
Thus, the village of Tukche has a furniture factory; Jhuwani operates an ambulance service; Jomsom rents out storefronts which sell crafts, produce and other necessities, and the Laxmi Library in Syangia built a radio station that galvanized the whole community and is now supporting a staff of 33 people enabling the library to pay off all its loans and become financially secure. The more successful the underlying financial enterprise, the more successful the community center.
And the centers’ impact on the villages is life-altering. Many are in remote areas in which children did not attend school, women could not read, and men could not support their families. Now, teachers and librarians trained by READ are providing education for young children throughout Nepal. Women are gathering together in village after village to not only learn to read but become economically self-sufficient while finding strength through numbers to resist the domestic violence that is often so pervasive among families in poverty. According to READ, the return rate on investment of micro-financing projects for women is 99%. And men and women are working together to create financially successful projects to support and sustain the libraries.
Everywhere we traveled, community leaders paid homage to Toni through some variation of the sentiments expressed by the president of the Jhuwani Library: “She removed a cloud of ignorance and illiteracy from our village, and replaced it with education, self-respect and prosperity.” And her response was always one of gratefulness to the villagers who, in creating their own dream, made her vision possible.
Because there is ongoing political turmoil in Nepal, all libraries and the different factions within the communities have to agree in writing to be Zones of Peace –- non-political, non-religious, non-governmental. And recently, libraries across the country have formed a coalition –- the Nepal Community Library Association –- and are now trading ideas and success stories and are themselves lobbying the government for even more support in building in rural areas.
According to Toni, this is a crucial development: “The idea of Nepalese having a sense of their own power in furthering the libraries is still in its infancy but has tremendous potential for future development.”
And her efforts have not gone unrecognized domestically. In 2006, READ Nepal received the Bill and Melissa Gates $1 million Access to Learning Award, which allowed READ to pursue similar efforts in India and Bhutan. And at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting held in September 2010, Bill Clinton announced READ’s commitment to empower 16,000 women and adolescent girls in rural Bhutan, India and Nepal during the next four years by building 20 women’s centers within new READ Library and Community Resource Centers.
Traveling from library to library, hearing story after story of how the centers have brought hope and prosperity beyond imagination, affected me in ways no monument, scenic byway or sightseeing tour ever could. The excitement, so emotionally heartfelt, among all the people there was infectious. I left each library filled with awe and respect for what all these people –- young and old, men and women, READ staffers and community volunteers –- have accomplished, and though admittedly misplaced, even a sense of personal pride on Toni’s behalf.
So yes, we visited temples, shrines and monasteries galore. We trekked the
Annapurna Circuit for hours. We rode elephants in the Chitwan Jungle. And learned of the Buddhist and Hindu cultures. In that sense it was a tour like any other. But seeing the country through the eyes of READ Global was an enlightening and inspirational experience that no ordinary tour can equal. For more information about Myths and Mountains, visit mythsandmountains.com; for READ Global, contact readglobal.org.




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How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

November 20, 2012

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1 previous review
June 8, 2011

I met Toni Neubauer while investigating non-profits who use sustainable business models within their frameworks. Toni suggested that if I truly wanted to understand the dynamics of creating sustainabl... more

November 20, 2012

I visited over 10 READ funded libraries throughout Nepal, sitting and speaking with the community elders and volunteers of the libraries as well as many of the people running the small businesses that were funding the ongoing operations of these libraries. That trip was the catalyst event that inspired me to take a more active role in working with sustainable non profit and impact organizations. The READ staff in country had an incredible connection to, and understanding of, each of the communities the libraries/community centers were located and worked to help them overcome organizational challenges any start up venture would encounter. They offered the perfect mix of development know-how and cultural awareness. It was an exciting and inspirational hands on trip and I would advise anyone interested in studying a sustainable social impact model sign up to go. Tim Morgan

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Was your donation impactful?

Likely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Definitely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

June 8, 2011

I met Toni Neubauer while investigating non-profits who use sustainable business models within their frameworks.
Toni suggested that if I truly wanted to understand the dynamics of creating sustainable community projects that I join her and others on a trek through Nepal to visit several of the
READ libraries. This was not my first time doing this type of travel but it did cement my beliefs about how critically important it is to create and support organizations like READ Global. We visited libraries throughout Nepal, met with volunteers, community leaders and more importantly the local families and individuals who operated the micro businesses that READ helped foster to help support the local library. These entrepreneurs were genuinely interested in hearing about ideas to improve their businesses or how to create new ones. As a career investment banker there is no doubt in my heart that READ has a powerful and sustainable model that will work in many regions beyond Nepal, Bhutan and India.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I met and spent time with, families and business owners and experienced the results within the communities that READ was involved in. These people described to our group specifically how their lives and their children's lives were being positively effected not only by access to the library learning centers but how the library was an important learning resource for farmers and entrepreneurs.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

This model works extremely well because they are transparent and pragmatic about mistakes and learning from them. The know how to help empower and support individuals within each community in order to achieve successful outcomes.

November 20, 2012

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November 20, 2012

I just returned two weeks ago from visiting 9 different READ Global rural library community centers in Bhutan and Nepal. With me were a group of trekkers in Bhutan and photographers in Nepal. All of the travelers, as well as myself, were tremendously impressed not only with the libraries, but with their sustainability and impact they have had on the communities in both countries. The community people showed us around the centers with tremendous pride and told us story after story about how they had been affected personally by the libraries and their social programs - micro-credit, women's empowerment, health, literacy, etc. Businesses that fully sustained and supported the libraries included a poultry farm, ambulance, tractor rental, furniture factory, storefront rental, and agricultural cooperative.

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Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

September 17, 2010
1 person found this review helpful

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Review from Guidestar
September 17, 2010
1 person found this review helpful

I would not support this organization and the libraries that they have created are not financially sustainable and not used by the public. When the communities know that visitors coming, the visits are staged with community members and children placed in the libraries to make it look like they are well used. When one visits the libraries unannounced, they are often not open.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I've been working in international development for over twenty years, and have seen the way that many poor communities are almost "trained" to try to make donors feel good, even if a project is effective. This is the case with this project.

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When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

April 20, 2008

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April 20, 2008

I am from a historic village of Eastern Terai of Nepal. The village is Hanumannagar of Saptary district. It is old headquarters of the Saptary district. It lies on the bank of the Saptakoshi river, about 13 kilometers East of the present headquarters Rajbiraj. It joins the East-West Mahendra highway at Bhardah, 6 kilometers in the North East. Though of historic importance, this village lacks better educational infrastructures. A high school viz., Mahavir Secondary School, has been running since early 60s. It has a wide coverage of surrounding 6-7 villages. No. of students is very high but I am very sorry to say that it has no library yet. I am a product of this school, 1987 batch. When I passed SLC (Secondary level) and went to join I.Sc., I found my range of knowledge so narrow, and it's all due to lack of library in my school. I even had not seen how library looks alike. Now I can understand the importance of a library in underdeveloped villages. So, I am striving to help establish a library in this school of Hanumannagar. I expect support of READ in this endeavor. My Address is as follows: Name: C.N. Khadga (Mr.) Contact Address: GPO: 23151, Kathmandu, Nepal. Email: eduutsav@yahoo.com, cnkhadga@yahoo.com Status: Managing Director, Edu-Utsav Education Foundation

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The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Great effort.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

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Ways to make it better...

Extend services to Terai villages also.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2008

March 30, 2008

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March 30, 2008

I met a remarkable woman, Toni Neubauer, in 2003. Knowing of my involvement in a number of humanitarian projects, of my background trekking/climbing in Nepal, and my long-held belief that the library is the most important structure in any community, she asked me to become a member of the READ Global Board of Directors. As impressed as I was at what Toni told me about READ, I politely declined because I felt that I was overextended with other commitments. However, in Oct.-Nov. 2004, knowing that I would be on a two-month long trip to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Burma, Toni asked that I conclude my trip by visiting some of the READ Libraries in Nepal. I agreed to do so. Trekking up the Kali Gandeki gorge in the Himalayan Kingdom of Mustang (a Kingdom within what was then the Kingdom of Nepal), visiting remote villages from Jomson to Tukche along the way, and then moving south to visit villages in the Chitwan area of the south, was a very moving experience. Wherever we went, I was struck by the appreciative way in which the villagers fully understood how their lives had been changed for the better by the assistance provided by READ. In village after village, READ was held in esteem that at times almost approached reverence. Near the end of this trip to Nepal, while in the village of Jhuwani, Toni asked if I would reconsider joining the READ Board. Having witnessed what I have described, I could only say yes. I'm happy that I made this decision because READ has continued to flourish and do good, not only in Nepal but elsewhere as well. READ India has now been established and the first READ Library in India (there are 40 in Nepal) will be dedicated in June followed later this year by our second Indian project. As READ continues to develop projects throughout Nepal and India, the intention is to enter at least 4 more countries in the next three years. The successful efforts of READ to improve the lives of people in developing countries of the world have not gone unnoticed as evidenced by READ being the recipient of the 2006 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation "Access to Learning Award," along with a great deal more recognition over the last few years. READ is doing more good in combating illiteracy, poverty, and lack of opportunity in lesser developed regions of the world than can possibly here be described. I am very proud to play a small role in its accomplishments and I would encourage anyone else with such an interest to also become involved with READ. From the standpoint of personal satisfaction, be assured that it's a decision that won't be regretted.

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The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

The respective staffs in the U.S., Nepal and India are all first-rate and dedicated to the principles of READ and to the embodiment and empowerment of the people they have set out to help.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Enter several more countries and expand into Latin America, Africa and other parts of Asia.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2008

March 29, 2008

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March 29, 2008

Support Read Global and get to be another Andrew Carnegie. How great is that? Well you may not get his money, you do get to participate in building free public libraries. FYI: Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish immigrant to America who became one of its wealthiest men. He offered any town who wanted one a free public library. The only towns denied were the ones that who would not meet the requirements Carnegie placed on them so their libraries would thrive well into the future—and they have. Read Global also places requirements on the towns that want their libraries/community centers so that they might also thrive well into future. Read Global requires each community to develop income producing projects that will support their libraries as well as requiring that they help build them. I think that’s why these libraries have become such vital community centers—they are the community’s creations. In the building, they have also built leadership, pride and a “we can do it” attitude. And that's before the first book is read. And you can see from the You Tubes what happens after people begin to read!

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

If everyone trying to lend a hand around the globe did it with the care and thoughtfulness of Read Global, we’d be a lot further along to ridding ourselves of poverty and its ills.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

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Ways to make it better...

I could visit every one of the libraries myself!

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2008

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