Storybooks open a new world for the children of Spiti in the midst of a pandemic
BY VISHAL GULATI
Shimla, September 6: Hundreds of elementary school students living in tiny hamlets in the scenic Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh have been introduced to a whole new world through picture books and stories, courtesy of ‘an NGO based in Delhi, to pique their curiosity and instill reading habits in them.
It comes at a time when small children have been locked in their respective homes amid fear of the coronavirus or now have restrictions allowing them to go out in public.
Officials of the NGO “Let’s Open a Book” believe that providing story books will help children adjust to a new set of circumstances while staying safe at home.
“Since students have not been able to join classes since March 2020 due to the closure of schools, we have decided to provide story books to class V students with the help of the administration of the region, ”NGO founder and managing director Ruchi Dhona told IANS.
The story books are in English, Hindi and local Tibetan languages for children in the Spiti Valley, where the majority of the inhabitants are tribals and Buddhists.
The NGO has worked in 60 public schools in Spiti by creating libraries that can accommodate 600 primary school students. The NGO has so far donated 6,000 pounds.
He also adopted a public library in Kaza, the seat of Spiti some 350 km from the state capital, Shimla, and set up a children’s corner there.
NGO volunteer Chemi Lhamo said the goal of delivering books to students at their doorstep was to encourage them to read while staying safe.
“Since schools have been closed and students are deprived of books, we have decided to provide them with books in their homes with the help of local authorities and teachers,” Lhamo said.
“The fundamental objective is to instill in them the habit of reading,” she said.
Currently the books are delivered to Kaza, Kibbar, Guling, Langcha and Mane.
The Spiti Valley, a mountainous paradise straddling India and Tibet, has more than two dozen scattered hamlets and remains isolated due to heavy snowfall for at least six months a year.
It reopens once the snow begins to melt after mid-April.
Dhona believes the story books would help children overcome the boredom, insecurity and emotional frustrations of life during the lockdown.
The NGO also produced short videos, presenting the tales and stories related to Spiti.
“The Spiti Valley has a tradition of storytelling for generations, which has been diluted in the recent past. We are now trying to convince teachers and parents to reach out to children by showing them such videos via smartphones and laptops, ”Lhamo said.
Sub-division magistrate Jiwan Singh Negi told IANS that the NGO plays a crucial role in creating libraries in Spiti that benefit school children.
In addition, he said, reading at home is helping them adjust to life in lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Reading books is my daughter’s favorite pastime these days when all the outdoor activities are almost over,” mother Dolma Negi said.
Even children make a habit of sharing by exchanging books, she added.
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at [email protected])
Disclaimer: This story is automatically generated from the IANS service.