Day labourer sets up library, helps spread knowledge in Kurigram
To promote the book reading culture and develop a nag for reading among villagers, Jaynal Abedin, a day labourer, established his library "Satvita Gronthonir" in his village Satvita of Kurigram's Ulipur upazila in 2016.
Born to farmer Kasem Ali and his wife Jaygun Bewa, Jaynal, the second of four siblings, completed his primary education from Satvita Special Government Primary School in 2002. However, extreme poverty hit his family after his father passed away that same year, leaving Jaynal with no other choice but to bid farewell to his studies and start working at a brick kiln in Tangail when he was just a 13-year-old boy.
Jaynal, now 34, started saving in small amounts after he had begun working at the brick kiln.
"Books became my only company when I first moved away from home as I could only visit my family twice or thrice every year. With time, I became more and more reliant on their company," said Jaynal, who bought over 300 books with whatever money he saved in 14 years till 2016 after sending a significant portion of his income to his family.
Jaynal, who still lives in a small two-room tin-shed house, built on his ancestral property, along with his mother Jaygun Bewa, wife Liza Akhter and their three-year-old daughter Zakia, bought one decimal of land for Satvita Gronthonir for Tk 20,000, his savings from 14 years of his service at the brick kiln.
With 300 books he had brought home with him as his asset, Jaynal started catering to the needs of the nearby students and teachers who were unable to access reading materials initially.
With time, the crowd at Jaynal's small tin-shed library began to grow as people from all walks of life started visiting Satvita Gronthonir more and more frequently.
"Teachers, students, job holders, labourers, farmers, and children from nearby villages come to my library every day to read or collect books. Once issued, the books have to be returned to the library within the next 15 days," mentioned Jaynal.
After six years of making ends meet on his own, he eventually received a grant of Tk 5,20,000 from the Local Government Support Programme to improve the library, which he used to construct a permanent structure last year.
Alongside encouraging people to read, students greatly benefitted from this initiative, said Hazrat Ali, a college student of the village.
"While this library gives us access to various books that aid our academics, the biographies, novels, and other creative and literary pieces inform us about the social structures, events that have political, economic, and historic significance, and cultural practices around the world," he added.
Jaynal still works as a day labourer alongside managing the library. "Books have never left my side, and they have given me the key to my happiness -- knowledge. I dream of a society that is developed, united, well-informed, and aware and my books are my soldiers in this quest."