August 2017: “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” This quote by Charles William Eliot echoes not only our love for books but also resonates with the story that unfolded at Satya Bharti School, Managiri, Tamil Nadu. The students’ love for books knew no bounds. However, due to lack of an organized library system, the students faced chaos and wasted a lot of time trying to locate their favourite titles. At times, students had to loiter for long in the area or sit or even lie down on the floor to search for the same.
Observing their teachers struggling for time to organize the books, the young book lovers took the initiative of organizing the library books in an alphabetical order. Upon deliberating on how to go about it, the students decided to make cupboards using low-cost material such as waste plastic bottles, metal rods and cardboard. They created a plan where groups of children accompanied by at least one teacher, fanned out into the surrounding villages to collect waste water bottles, iron rods, sticks and any other waste material with inherent strength. By the end of this exercise, the students had collected 120 bottles. Soon, they began building their eco-shelving system with the support of their teachers. At the end, they had built six bookstands with five shelves each, which they marked alphabetically.
Today, the young book enthusiasts not only access their books with ease but also have space for new books! The project has had a ripple effect in the community by inspiring other students to implement similar ingenious projects at home using waste material and making their homes and school a better place.
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