I have been using my expertise in Art as a therapy at Read India past 6 months & have been associated with Read past couple of years to train the rural people in parenting & even empowering them through art. It has been the most satisfying experience & work at Read especially because of its humanistic approach towards their vision. The visits & hard word of the Director & the other leaders, specialists & staff into the most challenging areas of the country to be able help the rural people with education & including them in the society by empowering all age groups is commendable! Each member speaks the language of compassion & concern! The country Director's efforts & guidance makes Read a very knowledgeable place to work with! I wish & pray for their success in their vision!
I have been associated with READ for six months now. I'm glad I had the opportunity to work with the core team of READ India since I could see the dedication with which the team works towards creating proper livelihood to the rural people. The passion which the team shows in the work is what I have been exposed to and it is very inspiring to work with them. They are also too humble to boast their success stories. Even during my short association with READ I observed lots of parallel programs happening at various community centers and almost all of them were converted into successful programs since the beneficiaries were huge in each of the program.
I have been involved in READ Nepal's programs since early 2000 in meetings as well as a library trainer.
I know this institution very well and appreciate its works very much.
Services catered by READ is very appreciable because of community empowerment and participatory involvement of rural people. READ not only establish and run libraries but also organize different humanitarian development activities at the community level.
I worked as a volunteer in READ Nepal for six months and during my volunteering time, I had many learning experiences. It was my first time working with local communities and I thank READ Nepal for giving me an opportunity to work as a volunteer. READ Centers are vehicles for community change and development. It was great fun working with READ and I am very proud to be a part of READ.
I have recently joined READ Center at Lalitpur Nepal as a part of my Bachelor's final year's internship. I am very impressed with the activities and services provided by the Center. I found READ's working modality unique and awesome as it is creating the positive impact in the lives of rural communities. READ's intervention reaches every part of community irrespective of age, gender, caste and ethnicity and I am happy to see how READ's community libraries is working to bring and engage the whole community in community development initiative. READ's community libraries have changed my perception of library, the READ Libraries are more than libraries, they are indeed the center of community engagement and development. I am proud to be associated with READ Nepal through its Center and in future, I would like to commit my time and creativity in READ's work.
Growing up in Bangladesh, I was always keenly aware of the lifechanging difference education and access to knowledge can make and transform a village, a city, a community - a generation. When I came across READ I was immediately attuned to its mission, vision and commitment to making this difference in South Asia - cemented by my visits to READ centers in Nepal and working with READ's passionate, driven, superbly qualified staff and Board members. What especially makes me incredibly excited about the READ model are the programs for providing locally relevant vocational training and tools for sustainable enterprises that build upon books and internet access in each of these centers.
READ is a truly innovative organization and I'm grateful for the opportunity to work alongside READ, its staff and the rural communities we serve.
I joined the Board of Directors of READ Global last year and I have been very impressed at the commitment and capabilities of both the headquarters and field staff. READ is doing impressive work in areas of significant unmet need and is making a huge difference in empowering individuals, families and communities. The model for READ's resource centers is smart and sustainable and contributes to the local sense of ownership and enthusiasm. High marks all around!
I worked as a volunteer with READ Global in 2014 in the field offices in Nepal, India, and Bhutan. This was truly the experience of a lifetime for me. My coworkers in the country offices in the capital cities were great to work with, and passionate about READ's mission. It was amazing to see the impact of the work that has been accomplished firsthand by visiting the community libraries in rural areas. I also had the opportunity to get to know some of the people in READ villages and hear about how community libraries have improved their lives and communities.
I spent my summer as a volunteer intern at the READ Global office in San Francisco because I was so inspired by their model and work in India, Nepal, and Bhutan. READ not only encourages literacy and economic empowerment in rural villages but also focuses on the sustainability of their programs so that each village takes ownership of their Center and the impact is compounded in future generations. It was these aspects that drew me to this internship, and I am so glad to have learned even more about READ's work during the summer as I researched programs and wrote blogs and posts for the website and social media. I truly enjoyed my internship at READ and consider this to be one of the best organizations working in the field of community empowerment around the world.
I've been working alongside READ for the past 18 months now and it has been one of the most rewarding projects of my life. No other organization that I've ever worked with has a model that manages to capture the unique strengths and culture of the individual communities they serve. The diversity of services found at each READ centre, built upon a solid common foundation of information access, is a model I try and replicate in all my other work. Every community that supports a READ centre is different, and the centres themselves reflect this in a such a genuine and harmonious way. This is truly an amazing hybridization of grassroots development. The staff in READ's 3 country offices and the San Francisco office are all a joy to work with. I look forward to every conversation with them. Amazing people doing amazing work. What more could you ask for in a nonprofit?
I actually came across the READ Center while hunting for an apartment here in Kathmandu. It has been one of my very fortunate finds. I have been volunteering with the organization for the past 6 months, assisting with their media & communications. I have been given the opportunity to prepare impact stories, articles for their blog and to assist in proof-reading reports. I have been able to travel into the field on a number of occasions to Nuwakot, Badikhel and Panuati, and this has given me invaluable work experiences. Not to mention the office is filled with a terrific staff led by Sanjana Shrestha, and in my opinion, is really making inroads in empowering the communities of rural and remote Nepal.
I became associated with READ Nepal through READ Center at Tikapur. Agriculture has been our profession since many generations and my family depends on agriculture for survival. But, past few years, the productivity of crops and vegetables were not good due to pest infestation. Meanwhile, I learned about Practical Answers Service- a joint program of READ Nepal and Practical Action where local queries of local community people are addressed. So, I sent queries related to agriculture and pest infestation. Then, I was called to participate in agriculture interaction program organized by the Tikapur READ center where other local farmers with the similar problems were present. I learned to make homemade pesticide and also off-seasonal vegetable farming. With this, there is drastic improvement in vegetable and crop production and consequently, improved my earning. I am happy to be associated with READ Nepal !
The READ Center provided me with training on Bee keeping. I am now a successful entrepreneur. The READ Center’s livelihood skills development program proves that it is entirely dedicated towards the day to day survival of the individuals of the community. It shows that the READ Center is very directly involved in our problems, and understands our immediate necessities rather than ignoring it and is helping us get away from our desperation.
As I participate in the women’s cooperative, I have gained a lot of firsthand knowledge about the economic status of the community members in my village. I have learned their problems and I have tried my best to provide them with solutions given our resources and knowledge. The READ Center’s decision to make a women’s cooperative is highly beneficial: first it provides the community with financial options, and second, as the cooperative is comprised entirely of women, the community can be assured that a dedicated and empathizing group is working towards their benefit and prosperity. READ has demonstrated that women are capable of performing roles that require transparency and accountability.
READ Nepal’s activities in our community have really impacted our lives in a positive way. I am glad that READ has been able to impact the whole community in a deep and influential way. After taking the adult literacy classes conducted at the READ Center, I have learnt the importance of education and I am committed to educating my children in the future. I have realized what I was missing in my own childhood. Education in my childhood would have made me look at the world in a different way, and I regret some of the mistakes I made in my life and attribute them to a lack of education. I am really dedicated to providing my children with an education that will enable them to be socially conscious individuals. I felt that the READ Center provides a great place to receive informal, socially conscious education which is really adapted to the realities of our poor, rural community.
I worked as volunteer in READ information and Resource Center, READ Center at Kathmandu, for 3 months. During the volunteer period, I worked as a facilitator for the adult literacy class and worked with women. This helped me realized that education and literacy is a powerful tool to change the women's status in a country like Nepal and I am glad to be a part of this initiative. I also got the opportunity to work with children and poor people. My early conviction that library is a repository of books have been proved wrong. "Libraries are vehicles for educational, social and economical transformation" and READ has been doing a fantastic work in transforming poor communities of Nepal. I am really proud to be a part of READ !
I graduated from the Early Childhood Development (ECD) program from READ Nepal supported CLRC, 3 years ago. It was a very positive experience for me. One of the main things I remember is that I got to meet, play with and interact with a lot of children my age. I am really good friends with some of the children I met at ECD. It was great to have a place to interact with other children my age, and now that we have gotten older, we have a shared understanding of the importance of a READ Center in our community. I believe that the focus on childhood that READ is dedicated to shows their level of long-term commitment towards the community.
I am the president of Jhuwani Center; READ supported CLRC. Before READ came to our village, I wasn’t satisfied with the level of contribution that I could provide for the rest of my community. I used to feel like my life was being wasted, and that my privileges were not being put to good use. However, due to READ’s goal of increasing community participation, I was provided with a lot of promising opportunities to utilize my leadership in a positive manner. READ gives the community members a lot of say into its activities, and is willing to patiently listen to any and all opinions regarding its activities. I believe this has greatly increased the sense of self-worth among the community members.
I volunteered for three months with READ Nepal, and I couldn't be more pleased with my experience. I spent a summer working with READ's women's empowerment programs, and during that time I was afforded the opportunity to visit several Community Library and Resource Centers. I was so impressed by what I found. READ Nepal does not just build libraries in rural areas; these centers are so much more than book-lending institutions. Each CLRC is tailored to suit the needs of its specific community, but every one contains a number of programs to address poverty through multiple means. These programs emphasize education, livelihood training, health and healthcare, women's empowerment, economic empowerment, and more. It's almost unbelievable how many dynamic, life-changing programs READ Nepal implements; progress in just one of those areas would be impressive, but READ manages to address them all successfully.
I spoke to several women through interviews, and every single one of them was so grateful for READ's women's empowerment programs. All of them could list dozens of ways they had benefitted or their lives had improved from the presence of a CLRC in their area. These women were living proof that the READ model works.
Not only are the CLRCs impressive, but I was also extremely satisfied with the leadership and staff at the main office in Kathmandu, which is where I was based. Everyone was so friendly, helpful, and passionate about the work they do. I had nothing but positive experiences working alongside such a hardworking group of people, and I'm very grateful for the opportunity.
" Community driven, controlled and managed development process are most responsive to the aspirations of the people, cost effective and sustainable in the long range. READ Nepal is a living example of it."
I recently visited four of READ's centers in Nepal and was truly impressed with their dynamic programs and life-changing work. Their libraries provide a platform for positive change and growth in rural communities. The programs run through the libraries are making an impact across sectors including health, education, and economic development. In fact, at each center I visited, local residents were literally lining up to tell me personal stories of how the READ center had positively changed their lives!
Our family has been very impressed with READ Global. We have been a donor sponsoring a library in Bhutan, and the whole process has been very transparent, impressive, and rewarding. READ is very approachable and willing to work with individuals to customize a donor campaign, which allows you to feel very connected to the project. Earlier this year we were able to visit the library that our campaign paid for, and the READ Bhutan staff was very professional and attentive to sharing the results. We saw first hand how donor funds make a real difference to a large number of people, and the READ Global and READ Bhutan staff made that possible.
READ Global has been a pleasure to work with. Our family volunteered to raise enough money to build a library in Bhutan, and we are thrilled to be a part of it. With READ, you can feel comfortable knowing that any money you donate goes straight to your goal. In our case, we made the commitment to raise enough money for a library in Bhutan, and READ did the rest, with the inauguration of the completed library one year later!
I've visited READ's operations in Nepal and was completely blown away by the depth of impact READ is having in rural communities. Villagers truly "own" the READ centers, ensuring that they are vibrant, dynamic places where all genders and ethnicities are welcome to come, read a book, join a co-op, participate in a training, or practice leadership skills. READ makes a quantifiable impact on each community with which it partners, and that is a rare feat indeed.
I did visit Read Geejgarh and Shahbad Mohammadpura centres and I work as a volunteer/intern at Read India. The models which they are working on has huge impact on the rural villages. They educated rural women in basic essentials of local language, math and this will enable women to overcome the daily hurdles such as reading a bus display board, calculate daily wages, savings. Also the library facility which they are providing will provide a platform to many rural masses who are upgrading and cannot afford to pay for such facilities.
I've visited READ centers in India, Nepal and Bhutan. What's impressive about them, and why they are extremely successful, is the way each reflect the input and interests of the local community. Rural villagers have invested their time and resources to create READ centers that delivers on their unique needs. And the result is people's lives are improving in some of the poorest communities in these countries.
READ does not need any review as the MODEL and functioning simply deserves appreciation as it stands true to its MISSION. I very strongly feel READ is a very DYNAMIC non profit organisation as IT keeps no profit for itself but gives much beyond to the RURAL Communities and society thus adding to the holistic development of a country. I am privileged to be associated with READ which is a rainbow of BOOKS, LIBRARY, LITERACY, OPPORTUNITIES and much BEYOND...... MY SALUTE and BEST WISHES to READ in all the En devours.
I have been an ICT practitioner in India for over 16 years. As a member of the ICT community in India I travel and interact with many NGOs in remote locations India. I have a personal network of over 200 Non government organizations who are part of the engo group. I have visited the READ center in a remote village called Geegargh in Rajasthan and seen the change a library and women's empowerment can do. The READ model is surely a best practice to be replicated as it works closely with communities building a eco-system of change. The Read centre in Rajasthan works with village women who have never gone to school, it provides them functional literacy and creates community groups which work together to create new livelihood and economic independence.
I have visited READ Global centers in India, the center in Geejgarh village in the state of Rajasthan; another one in Dwarka, Kakrola village in Delhi, and most recently the newly inaugurated Shahbad Mohammadpur Model Center in also in Delhi. The work READ Global does is inspiring and meaningful but most importantly, it's amazingly impactful. READ centers in India are community-based and owned projects that are born from the community members' needs but also from their desire to live better lives and to be able to have a safe and inviting place where they can access opportunities that will help them tackle different development issues. READ centers are active, dynamic, lively places where women can be receive training and develop marketable skills (computer or sewing skills or attend beauty school classes, for example) as well as women's empowerment workshops; all the while their children attend the early education section and the library at the center. I see the READ centers as multiple-service centers where community members can come together to use information resources, enjoy recreational activities, learn about issues that are relevant to them, and feel at home. When I think of public libraries and the role they play in developing and empowering their communities, the READ model and its centers are models worth replicating.
READ Nepal, an International Non Government Organization (INGO) in Nepal is a branch office of READ Global which is now headquartered in Washington DC and registered as a 501(c)(3) corporation in the U.S. Established in 1991, READ Nepal is a Non Profit Organization which has already established several self sustaining rural libraries in various districts of Nepal. Founded by Dr. Antonia Neubauer in 1980s, READ Nepal has been involved towards a holistic development of the community through the intervention of community libraries.
With the major objective of promoting education through libraries, READ Nepal has been continuously involved in establishing and supporting libraries and helping them to sustain in long run. Conducting various literacy campaigns and involving the local participants of the rural areas has been one of the key roles of READ Nepal for social development. READ Nepal always focuses on economic growth of local communities through income generation sustainability projects and therefore, has been providing various employment opportunities in rural as well as urban areas of Nepal.
The establishment of libraries in various parts of Nepal has made the local communities literate and well able to communicate. As I have witnessed, some of the libraries also have started the literacy campaigns for housewives and the change in those housewives are remarkable and truly appreciable. They have been well able to understand and communicate in proper way and are being involved in social and health awareness programmes.
As I have been associated with READ Nepal since 2003, I have also observed that READ Nepal has truly served for the better education, social and health awareness, income generation, women empowerment and social development through local communities libraries. As sustainability has been essence of READ Nepal, READ supported community libraries are sustained by various income generation projects, whether they by establishment of cooperatives or providing training to local people.
I have always found the staff and officers of READ Nepal enthusiastic, energetic and dedicated and happy to serve the organization and well able to handle the programmes and projects conducted in a regular basis. With such effective staff as a merit, the objectives of the organization have always been achieved and indeed, READ Nepal has truly acted as a perfect organization to serve the local communities on every basis.
I had the opportunity to meet with staff, volunteers and community members at READ Centers in both India and Nepal. I met individually with staff from all four countries in which READ operates. The commitment and dedication of the staff is exceptional. What makes READ unique is their ability to engage communities as partners in their own development efforts. They do not have a "donor" mindset, but an entrepreneurial "partner" mindset. Having met the staff and seen READ Centers in action, I can say confidently that READ's programs have a tremendous impact on rural communities.
I have been a librarian for more than 35 years and was totally amazed and impressed by the incredible work I saw happening during the two weeks I spent visiting the program in Nepal, India and Bhutan. The work being done in community building, in supporting the development goals and needs of communities, villages and countries, is simply unprecidented in my career.
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.
I had the opportunity to visit three READ centers in Nepal in November 2012 and was very impressed by what I experienced and observed. At the strategic level, the READ model of self-sustaining enterprise makes a lot of much needed sense in a world of historically well-intentioned giving with unintended consequences. The READ model, which emphasizes community and stakeholder engagement and ownership, is also highly replicable and does not rely on any one single charismatic individual to succeed. At the operational level, I was able to witness the positive impact READ centers have had on individual lives as well as on entire communities. It was, for example, inspiring to hear the stories of women who, through READ programs, learned to read and write late in their lives or those of the young women who learned technical skills and opened profitable, successful businesses providing valuable and needed services to their communities, or those of the women who formed a successful farming cooperative in their village. It was a moving experience to witness these women articulating how they felt empowered and were now able to contribute to the economic situation of and decision-making processes in their families and communities, rather than feeling marginalized as invisible, second class citizens in a society characterized by ethnic, gender, caste, political and socio-economic divisions. I believe READ has already achieved much and has further potential to do still more. I was also impressed by the READ team's commitment to understand its development impacts through a rigorous monitoring and evaluation process that they are implementing - it is not easy for organizations to take a hard look in the mirror and be honest about what is working versus what is not achieving desired results. READ's monitoring and evaluation program will also achieve accountability for results and give the team the tools and data to substantiate and evidence results, which is critical for ongoing reporting to donors and the public. All in all, I was very impressed with the quality and caliber of the READ Nepal staff that I met as well as with the vision and leadership of the Executive Director of READ Global. Well done everyone and I wish you much continued success!
As a family, with my 5 year-old-daughter, we traveled to India and Nepal visiting READ centers and attend the READ conference. It was a life changing experience for all of us. We were so impressed with the READ libraries and dedication of the community and staff who work at these centers to improve the lives of all the people in their villages. We visited READ sewing centers and micro-funding centers that focus to train, educate and empower women to become entrepreneurs to start small businesses to help themselves earn a living. READ is giving rural women with no formal education or employment opportunities to transform their own lives and help educate their children. Being a mother, I was humbled and inspired by the many women who started their own businesses in their homes so their children can attend school. READ is finding solutions to many problems facing societies today and it takes funding and the right programs to help people help themselves. READ is working and cooperating with the villages to identify their needs and offer solutions. This is well worth the investment and time to be part of the answer and actually witness people transform their lives, one can only feel true happiness for humanity.
Books are what we say windows that open a person's mind to the world, and what I think READ Global has done is remarkable. It has not only opened READ centers in communities to help rural development, but has given an opportunity to open the minds of many children's from rural areas. I have myself been to a READ centers in my country, in one of the rural area Ura, Bumthang, Bhutan, and seeing the children being fascinated with a roomful of books to read brought joy to their faces. many book to choose to read, many reference for projects and access to internet, it was nice to see an organization do it.
I'm an engineer and have have worked on projects in Bhutan for over 20 years. I was in Bhutan when READ began and have watched its progress with interest. Occasionally I've been asked to volunteer my consulting services for library construction projects. READ Bhutan is professionally managed and staffed with people committed to their mission. Making progress on any type of project in Bhutan is difficult so the great contributions READ has made to literacy, education and well being in Bhutan are truly remarkable.
I have witnessed the ways in which the libraries that READ Nepal sponsors in Nepal have transformed the lives of many people in the country. READ libraries are much more than libraries, they are development centers. Many libraries have opened cooperatives for micro-credits and provide trainings and education programs that help people from the Bottom of Pyramid to become more productive and economically independent. Furthermore, children can go to the library to read, study and play after school in a good environment instead of joining gangs and taking wrong habits. READ Nepal is a role model to me and has inspired my social work. Thank you!
I have been association with READ Nepal since its initiation time. Being myself as librarian, I have visited many READ supported libraries. Sustainability has been the essence of READ model under which each community library is financially sustained by income generation projects. Sense of ownership is also the READ’s model; the community treats the library as their own which is an excellent practice. READ supported community libraries are not just a library but also the centre of educational development, improvement in livelihood, social awareness, women’s empowerment, health awareness, and access to ICT and so on. So, I am proud to say that READ Library has been the catalyst for uplifting an entire community.
READ Bhutan, in my view, has been doing incredible job by providing the much needed services to the most deprived group of people in the country. They have opened their first READ Centre in Ura, Bhutan, my home town, which has immensely benefited the community. Since then, I was always inspired by their great work and have been following their activities and programmes effectively. My community is one of the first benefactors and we also share good professional working partnership at the organizational level.
The latest Read Centre in Thimphu has now become a model centre not only in terms of their services through library, the centre provides much beyond that. The Centre brings together other non-profit organizations providing range of social services for the community. I wish them all the very best of luck for their continued support and services to the larger group of community.
READ Bhutan focuses on empowerment of local and rural communities, especially targeted towards women and from then on wards to children and the community at large. Educating women is the best investment since this has a ripple effect starting from household to the whole community. With READ Bhutan, rural communities has been empowered with knowledge and opportunities. Now a farmer in rural Bhutan know about better parenting, the value of sending children, especially girls to school, decision on family planning and other reproductive health issues, does business with a mobile phone and keep records of transactions, know the procedure of availing loans from the bank, and is aware of environmental issues. This farmer also contributes to our new democracy since he/she is empowered to think, analyse and select the best leader. READ Bhutan's impressive method of involving communities creates a sense of ownership and a sustainable way to keep the programme going on which is impressive. Tandi
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Review from Guidestar
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: [email protected], [email protected] Status: Managing Director, Edu-Utsav Education Foundation
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.
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!
Thanks for your interest to Burundi, especially to me by addressing me this message. Scholars say that one learns by using one or more of our human senses, and reading is one way accessible to many in the Western World; yet rare in developing nations. As I travelled a lot in USA, Sweden and Netherlands, and saw how reading places a big part in shaping the minds, thinking and behaviour of this wealth world, I realized that this method of changing the nation (through reading), if it can be avalaible to our people, then they can be transformed, live peacefully together and reach a very good standard of social and economic development. Myself, I learnt and I am still learning many new ways, ideas, innovations and practices through reading. I have not yet met your founder, Antonia Neubauer; but I value and appreciate very much her/his innovative approach to development and poverty eradication, especially in Africa. I have not even yet visited any of your libraries in Nepal. To conclude, many of my studies in Community Development, I did them through reading books, also I have shared this innovative and powerful transforming approach to many in Burundi, and their eyes got opened and minds inspired to the extend of telling me, “You know, we have gone to our universities bookstore and start reading. Please do your best so that we can get at least one Community Library here in Burundi.” One wise men in the Bible said about God saying, “My people are perishing because of ignorance - not reading to get knowledge” It is so surprising how you can learn more through reading than classic academic ways, because they are very recent innovations you find in a book but not yet put in a course, especially in Africa. Information goes very quickly. From Nibizi Jean-Marie SHINE
READ Global has been working for not only increasing the awareness but for a great revolution too. Actually, I am one of the social workers who indirectly play the role for the positive changes in the society. Previously, I have facilitated for specially the rural areas and motivated to do so due to my rural background too. There are very few of the organizations working in this sector in rural areas. The past achievements of READ Global are obviously inspirable. The number of people involved and benefited is the facts behind this. I have heard much more about Antonia Neubauer, the founder of READ Global, but unluckily I have never got a chance to meet. I have been visited in the library in Kathmandu, Nepal. Once again I want to emphasize that I belong from a rural community and that's why I have the passion for literacy. I have completed my masters in Chemistry. The passion in me is still alive and my whole life will be for the social service. I am myself affiliated with many social organizations and doing/done few of the significant services. In spite I am not satisfied with these achievements and willing to do much more than that.
I support Read Global because I am a retired librarian and have been inspired by what Toni Neubauer has done first in Nepal and now in India. It is an idea whose time has come and it is doing marvelous things for people in villages in these countries. I have served from the beginning on the board and now am an emeritus trustee. These libraries have done much for the people and Toni's insistence that they have a sustaining project that will support the libraries is brilliant. The people in the village then have a base of support and READ can go on to build more libraries.
A friend had been trying to persuade me to join him on the board of READ. I wasn't interested. Finally, he managed to seat me at a dinner next to Toni Neubauer, READ's amazing founder. By the time dinner was over, I was sold. I joined the board soon thereafter and became a donor as well. That was more than three years ago. Since then, I've had the opportunity to learn first-hand about READ's extraordinary work in Nepal, and about our new and fast-growing program in India. I've been thrilled by the major support READ has received from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. I've visited three READ libraries in Nepal -- and learned to my surprise how much more than libraries these institutions really are. To call them "libraries" doesn't get across the reality that these are active, vibrant community centers offering women's health programs, access to the Internet, training in local business, microcredit programs, and a whole lot more. I'm excited to be part of READ's new effort to expand from Nepal and India into four additional countries within three years. We need lots of help to accomplish that.