A beacon of hope for readers in remote areas | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 22, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:34 PM, November 22, 2020

A beacon of hope for readers in remote areas

Renaissance Shamajik Shongho is a social welfare organisation founded by Fokhrul Islam Sumon, a student of University of Dhaka (DU). Primarily, the organisation intends to raise awareness on child marriage, drug abuse and other social issues through regular campaigning. They also promote literacy by establishing libraries in remote areas and plan on arranging a scholarship programme for underprivileged students.

As a part of their first project, they have established the library, Renaissance Gono Gronthagar, in South Baliakandi, Bijbagh Union, Noakhali. The library has a collection of 500 books of different genres. "Although most of the books are in Bangla, we also have a few English and Arabic books," Sumon said. Apart from classic literature, the library also has academic and religious books for readers of all ages.

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The idea of building a library was first conceived by Sumon and his friend Shusmoy Deb, a student of DU. Both of them were former students of Faujdarhat Cadet College, and spent a great deal of time in their college's library. During their cadet days, they had weekly library classes.

They were not avid readers initially, and their interest in the library bloomed after attending a session, where Dr Ataul Karim was a keynote speaker. The renowned Bangladeshi-American scientist emphasised on the role of reading in his life. "After his speech, I did not want to miss the opportunity of discovering the books that moulded his life during his college days," Sumon added.

Sumon and Deb realised that villagers in remote areas are deprived of the joy of reading and that books could shape the minds of young students. "When we thought of establishing a library, we were motivated by the appreciation from our friends and seniors," Deb said. Most of the funding came from Sumon's scholarship and the money he earned by teaching students. Furthermore, their friends and teachers supported the initiative by donating books from their personal collections.  A few days ago, the organisation,  Pashe Achi Initiative, also provided them with more than a hundred books.

As of now, they are allowing people to come and read at the library. After recruiting a librarian, they will be able to issue books. Due to the ongoing pandemic, they have made it compulsory for people to wash their hands before entering the library. No more than five readers can enter at a time. In order to promote readership among the villagers, they are planning to arrange a monthly book review competition. After the pandemic subsides, they also plan to conduct seminars, focusing on the necessity of reading.


Maisha Islam Monamee likes to read her way through life, and you can always find her scribbling and planning. To send recommendations and help, reach out to her at mislammonamee@gmail.com.


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