Saturday, April 26, 2008
READ Nepal is the NGO I will be working with this summer for my International Public Service project. READ has established libraries in many of the rural districts around Nepal. It's a pretty big deal because the literacy rate is low and the people did not have access to books. For my project, I will explore the existing women's art and craft cooperatives and determine the feasability of linkage to the libraries as for-profit ventures. I will also be a part of the team planning to establish regional computer centers. These centers may open the way for e-commerce. Here's some additional info about READ for those of you with a longer attention span:
VISION: A better world through universal educational opportunityand rural development - one person, one village, one country at a time.
WORLDWIDE MISSION: To empower communities using a replicable model of sustainable economic and community development that pairs non-profit libraries with for-profit ventures.
READ Nepal was established in the early 1990's. An American, Dr. Toni Neubauer, came to Nepal on a trekking expedition and asked the Sherpa what was most needed in his village. His answer "A library!" sparked the beginning of the international NGO, READ. For almost two decades, READ has brought life, learning, and literacy to underserved rural communities of Nepal by pairing non-profit library community centers with for-profit businesses in partnership with the local population.
Here is a map of Nepal with the locations of the READ libraries:
To date 553,380 people have benefited from these projects, 75 librarians have been trained, 95 computers serve the community, an average of 3,500 books fill the shelves, and each library employs an average of 5 people. READ library centers serve as community meeting halls and health clinics. English and literacy classes are held, entrepreneurial training takes place,conferences are conducted, and many other events unfold, all aimed at enriching the community and its people.
This year, READ Global received a grant from the Gates Foundation to expand the model into four additional developing countries. Ultimately, a global network of READ country projects will share resources and best practices much the way the Nepal network is functioning today.