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!
" 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 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 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.
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.