This was of one of the worst hit areas of the 2015 earthquake in what remains one of the world’s poorest countries. Apart from natural disasters and remoteness, illiteracy and limited access to information keep rural communities in poverty. Books are both a rarity and a luxury in Nepal and in rural areas libraries are almost unheard of.
Books4Nepal was established in 2018 by Andrea and Mario Marini to build and run the very first library/ resource centre in the whole region to supply both Nepali and English reading and textbooks to schools.
Designing Libraries featured the project during the early fundraising stages. Andrea and Mario spent the first year raising funds through local events in the UK, including a large art exhibition and online campaigns, and managed to secure the remaining funds through a grant from the organisation Basaid in Switzerland and a generous donation from Joanna Lumley.
The library opened earlier this year, hiring a local trainee librarian. There are currently over 3,000 children’s books in English (second hand donated books shipped from the UK) but only 500 in Nepalese language as these could only be bought new. The large travel agency Worldwide Expeditions has agreed to promote the project with all their travellers going to Nepal, once borders reopen, to ensure a constant flow of English books in the future.
The library has been a crucial support to the children of the surrounding villages as schools have been closed since March due to Covid. Nepal's latest Economic Survey report says that fewer than 30% of schools have access to a computer and only 12% can offer online learning. In rural areas the numbers are even lower.
The library currently uses a manual system with hand written index cards but will soon be registering the books online as the UK charity Jangala has just donated a Big Box Wi-Fi booster that will finally guarantee an internet connection. An internet connection will also allow access to thousands of books for children in Nepalese that can be downloaded free of charge from the website www.pustakalaya.org.
For this reason Books4Nepal is now looking for donations of old e-readers so that the library can lend these to the children for use in the reading room. Anyone who may be able to help with the campaign can contact Andrea directly. Additionally, individual donations are welcome at their Just Giving page.