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Books by bike: Sri Lankan man runs mobile library for kids

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Books by bike: Sri Lankan man runs cellular library for teenagers

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Throughout his leisure time, Mahinda Dasanayaka packs his bike with books and rides his cellular library — throughout largely muddy roads operating via tea-growing mountain areas — to underprivileged youngsters in backward rural elements of Sri Lanka.

Having witnessed the hardships confronted by youngsters whose villages haven’t any library services, Dasanayaka was searching for methods to assist them.

Then he received the thought for his library on wheels.

He began his program, known as “Guide and Me,” three years in the past, and it has grow to be very fashionable among the many youngsters.

“There are some children who hadn’t seen even a youngsters’s storybook till I went to their villages,” he stated.

Dasanayaka, 32, works as a toddler safety officer for the federal government. On his off days — largely throughout weekends — he rides his bike, which is mounted with a metal field to carry books, to rural villages and distributes the studying materials to youngsters freed from cost.

“The youngsters are very eager and enthusiastic, they’re eagerly ready for me — all the time searching for new books,” Dasanayaka stated by telephone.

His program is principally centered in Kegalle, a mountainous area of the Indian Ocean island nation about 85 kilometers (52 miles) northeast of Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, with poor villages scattered amongst tea plantations. He visits the villages a few times every week to distribute the books.

His assortment contains about 3,000 books on quite a lot of topics. “Boys largely prefer to learn detective tales equivalent to Sherlock Holmes, whereas ladies choose to learn youth novels and biographies,” he stated.

To this point, he stated, his program has benefited greater than 1,500 youngsters, in addition to about 150 adults.

He started this system in 2017 with 150 books — a few of his personal and others donated by buddies, colleagues and well-wishers. He purchased a second-hand Honda bike for 30,000 Sri Lankan rupees ($162). He then mounted a metal field on the bike’s pillion seat.

“I needed to do one thing for youngsters who’re burdened with an exam-centered schooling. … And to vary the best way children have a look at society, to vary their views and broaden their creativeness,” he stated.

Aside from gifting away books, Dasanayaka additionally speaks to the youngsters for a couple of minutes, often underneath a roadside tree, highlighting the worth of studying, books and authors. He then conducts a dialogue on books the youngsters have learn, with the intention of ultimately forming studying golf equipment.

His program has unfold to greater than 20 villages in Kegalle. He additionally has expanded it to some villages in Sri Lanka’s former civil battle zone within the northern area, greater than 340 kilometers (211 miles) from his house.

The lengthy civil battle led to 2009 when authorities troops defeated Tamil rebels who had been combating to create a separate state for his or her ethnic minority within the north.

Dasanayaka, who’s from the ethnic majority Sinhalese, believes books can construct a “bridge between two ethnic teams.”

“Books can be utilized for the betterment of society and promote ethnic reconciliation — as a result of nobody can get indignant with books.” he stated.

He additionally has established mini libraries at intersections in a few of the villages he visits, giving youngsters and adults a spot to share books. These contain putting in a small metal field that may be opened from one facet onto a wall or on a stand. To this point, he has constructed 4 such services and goals to arrange 20 in several villages.

Whereas Dasanayaka spends his personal cash on his program, he isn’t rich, with a take-home earnings of 20,000 rupees ($108) a month from his job. He stated he spends a few quarter of that on gasoline for his cellular library.

He lives along with his spouse, who can also be a authorities employee, and their two youngsters.

“I stay a easy life,” he stated. “No massive hopes, and I’m not chasing after materials values equivalent to massive homes and automobiles.”

Nuwan Liyanage, senior deputy normal supervisor of native radio station Neth FM, known as Dasanayaka “a hero of our time.” The station has been serving to Dasanayaka gather books.

“He has set an actual instance for society,” Liyanage stated. “With little or no assets, he has accomplished exceptional issues, and his undertaking has opened the eyes of many others to do comparable issues.”

Mohomed Haris Shihara, 48, a nursery college instructor within the village of Kannantota, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Dasanayaka’s house, praised this system, saying it has benefited about 100 youngsters in her village.

“It is a great point and it has helped to develop an curiosity among the many children to learn books,” she stated. “Additionally, the follow-up discussions on books have widened the youngsters’s information.”

Dasanayaka stated he doesn’t search any financial profit from his program.

“My solely happiness is to see that youngsters learn books, and I might be delighted to listen to the children say that books helped them to vary their lives,” he stated. “And that is my final happiness.”

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