Report by Vicky Allen (Higher Colleges of Technology, Fujairah, UAE)
Through the gracious donation from the Extensive Reading Foundation, the Namaste Library Project was birthed in December 2013 at the Namaste Children’s Home in Pokhara, Nepal (42 children). Without knowing before we arrived, a new library room had just been completed on the rooftop of the orphanage by funding from Spain. It was just a room at that time.
During our trip in December, furniture was purchased through donations from individuals in the UAE and books were ordered with the funding from the ER Foundation. Buying the books from India allowed us to purchase over 300 books, nearly twice as many compared to ordering them from anywhere else. The books would take about 2 months to arrive.
The one problem was that we could only order by publisher, not by titles, so we didn’t receive enough low level books that matched the existing MReader quizzes. A couple of us are trying to work on writing more quizzes so as to be able to use these books with m-Reader.
Enthusiasm was ‘stirred’ with the children and staff for this new reading adventure and they couldn’t wait for us to return to continue the project!
At the TESOL Arabia conference, many of the publishers agreed to donate books to take with us on our trip back to Nepal. FlyDubai also arranged for us to receive ‘free’ baggage to accommodate all the books, school supplies and prizes we had accumulated from the different companies and groups.
When we returned in March 2013 to continue the library project, a volunteer from Germany had just completed wonderful paintings both on the inside and outside walls of the library room! It was an unexpected addition to the room! The books had also arrived and, with the labels that we brought with us, we were able to label the compatible books for m-Reader. We also designed a library check-out system for them to use.
Much was accomplished during this trip as we also purchased three desktop computers with the donation from the ER Foundation, which are now set up with access to the Internet.
The older children helped in the labeling of the books and even were able to read some books and take quizzes to try out the system. Their faces were priceless as they were rewarded with an icon of the book cover for each quiz they passed! Excitement was definitely generated but, because we had to return to the UAE, we were not able to complete the set-up and training.
We are planning to return in July to hire, train and financially support an adult to manage the library in the evenings after school hours and on weekends. The children are excited and want to read. We hope to be bringing more books with us as I have contacted the publishers again, hoping for more low-level books.
One thing I found to be quite interesting was that the Nepali children could sound out many of the English words in a story. They didn’t seem to be stumped by reading the ‘words’ yet they didn’t understand what they were reading. They had read some of the very difficult regular classics that had been donated over the years so when I asked them to read ‘easy’ books, they complied but really didn’t want to. But, when they took the m-Reader quizzes, they realized how much of the book that they really didn’t understand.
I definitely see a need for this project here in Nepal and am very thankful to those with the Extensive Reading Foundation who helped financially to birth the Namaste Library Project at Namaste Children’s Home in Pokhara, Nepal.