Published: 06th January 2021
This young couple has set up a library for kids in this little Manipur town
Asung Pharung talks about the library and the impact it has made in his community — and how they managed to make it happen
With most schools closed across the country, kids sitting at home in front of their screens is quite a familiar sight. But not in the little town of Ukhrul in Manipur. Thanks to the efforts of a young couple, kids in this community have been flocking to a library instead. Impressed? So were their parents and literally everyone else in town when they saw the children take to reading — a habit that was never part of their culture.
Asung and his wife set up the library in September 2020
It all started when Asung Pharung and his wife were in Singapore for Asung's higher studies. He explains, "My first daughter went to pre-school there. She would come back every day and ask us for books. I went to the store and got her some. Even though she couldn't read, she would just flip through the pages and then ask for more. We never had to force her to read, she just loved to. We were surprised, because, back home in Manipur, hardly anyone had the habit of reading. I had never read a complete book even when I was in high school. So I was inspired to think about my hometown. What if all the kids there started reading this way?"
Asung had bought so many books for his daughter that by the time he graduated, they had several carton boxes full of books. They decided to ship it all back to Manipur. When they moved back, they wondered if starting a library would be a good idea. So they gave it a shot, rented a place, got some donations and bought some books.
The library, set up in September 2020 is called Miracle Worchum (library) and is situated in Ukhrul, Manipur. "Before we started this, many friends and family members were wondering if it would be a success and if anyone would come. They were suggesting we start a playschool instead, because no one expected a library to be successful. We don't have any library in Ukhrul, let alone an exclusive one for kids. In fact, this is the first kids-only library in all of Manipur," says Asung.
The library was started during the pandemic, so they could only invite a few families. Now, Asung invites about three families a day to visit. So far, 67 kids have visited, from toddlers to teenagers. They have books in all genres like encyclopedias and dictionaries, computers and science, family and relationship, arts and music, biographies and history, literature, multimedia, poetry and rhymes, jokes and drama, plants and animals, fantasy fiction, letters and numbers and devotionals. Every Saturday they have a storytelling time. In the future, they also plan to start a puppet show or show some kid-friendly movies once in a while.
Asung adds, "It's painful to see our kids immersed in the digital world. I just want to reintroduce or rather introduce the reading culture in our kids. Our kids don't read anything other than their textbooks, I want them to explore all kinds of books. We are currently inviting families for free, but this year we will be providing membership at a nominal fee."