November 27, 2012
I have recently returned from a wonderful holiday trekking in Bhutan. During my weeks in the country I was able to visit 3 of READ's libraries and community centres. They were all different, a testament to READ's overarching principle that each facility must be requested and owned by the local people and reflect the specific needs of their community. URA library was a full facility with additional rooms for computer use, for youngsters and also for the many training programmes that are being provided for the local women in particular. It was decorated with the drawings and paintings created during a recent art day for the local children. I was also pleased to hear how the staff are providing outreach to a more remote village 11 km further up the valley. It is sustained by a tractor rental business which provides a much wanted service to the local potato farmers. The second library was much smaller and associated with a women's craft training centre. This is an example of how READ Bhutan develops collaborations with domestic charities as well as INGOs to provide convenient opportunites to correct illiteracy within specific groups. The final library and community centre was actually being built. It is a low income area of the capital Timphu and is situated in one of the apartment blocks right in the middle of the development. As part of the many services it will offer (computers, internet access, training, children and women areas etc) it will house representatives of other groups serving the local peripatetic population so giving them a comprehensive and convenient safe haven in which to learn and read. It was opened in mid November by the Prime Minister, another sign of how quickly the READ model of sustainable community-owned facilities has been recognised and adopted in Bhutan.
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