Published: 07th October 2020
How these two law students are helping youth in UP's remote villages to prepare for government exams
Jatin Lalit, a law student at Galgotias University, Noida, speaks to us about their in setting up a community library in UP's Cheruia village
In the remote villages of Uttar Pradesh, a lot of young aspirants give up their dreams to take up government jobs due to the dearth of study materials, access to resources and their economic backgrounds, owing to which they are even unable to travel to urban areas. Two law students hailing from Bansa already have an answer to this. Jatin Lalit (22) and his college senior Praveen Kumar set up a community library at Cheruia village, in UP's Baliya district, and are also working on setting up the second one in Bansa. "Libraries are a treasure trove of knowledge and information. It provides youngsters access to a plethora of resources and a safe space to learn," Jatin tells us. The community library is completely free of cost and welcomes visitors of every age group to come and borrow books and study.
The community library at Cheruia officially opened its doors for the public in the first week of September and is set up at a public resthouse in the village. Currently, the library boasts of more than 600 books – 200 educational books and 400 storybooks, primarily written in Hindi, for easier access to the villagers. In 2017, Jatin was a part of The Community Library Project (TCLP) – a Delhi-based organisation focussed on setting up community libraries in rural areas. Gaining from that experience, he and his friend set up the library in UP's Cheruia. "I volunteered there for three years and learnt a lot about setting up community libraries. During the lockdown, when I came home, I got a call from my senior Praveen and he asked if I could help set up a library in the village. Immediately, we got to work," adds Jatin.
Jatin, who is a law student at Galgotias University, Noida, tells us that setting up a community library requires two most important necessities in the beginning: a place to set it up free of cost and a minimum of 50 interested visitors to come to the library regularly. "We had to conduct a survey to find out how many readers are there in the village, we had to conduct a community walk and we found that the biggest demand was there are numerous students who want to prepare for the government competitive exams but due to their economic backgrounds they can't move to cities or urban areas like Lucknow and Allahabad. They do not have access to the resources or materials and thus they drop the idea of government jobs," he says.
The duo surveyed seven villages and found that 110 students were preparing for government examinations and had no access to study material. The books these aspirants needed were available only at shops located in the city. "We got one room and began setting it up. Then we prepared a list of books, added these links in the Amazon Wishlist, people can choose to buy one book or twenty books, it is their choice. When people donate the books they keep getting delivered to the library. A few people from TCLP donated the first books and other organisations donated over 150 books," adds the law student.
They also have a third person who is helping them with the under-construction library in Bansa, Malvika Aggarwal, a fifth-year law student. "When I joined the law school, I came with a dream of doing something for the less privileged people. I knew I wanted to give something to the people and help them in some way. With different experiences, I think I found a way out to contribute to helping out children in access to books, to education, and a better future. Our aim is to provide children with space and books to prepare for government exams," she says.
The library also serves as a resource centre, if students want to give mock tests or attend online classes they provide laptops. "We are trying for collaboration with centres so students can also access live classes," says Jatin. The library currently has 60 visitors on an average and around 80-85 during the weekends. As for their future plans, Jatin says their objective is to set up libraries in remote villages and if more people approach them, the duo will also help them set up community libraries in rural areas. They are also running a crowdfunding campaign on Milaap to raise funds for the Bansa Community Library that is under construction.
To donate books, visit their Amazon wishlist: https://www.amazon.in/hz/
To support them, you can also donate at Milaap: https://milaap.org/