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 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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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.