Majidbhita is a riverine island – surrounded on all sides by the Beki river in Assam’s Barapeta district. Its like a sand bar, floating in the middle of the river. Yet, it’s a bustling place, with 250 families living there and leading a normal life there though 80% of these are below the poverty line.
It is always in news when floods hit Assam almost every year where the Beki river overflows and inundates the place. But this news is not about the flood – its about how a tin sheets made library has become the go-to place for all. This library is the place where webinars are now held and children educated about the pandemic and the rules they need to follow to prevent it.
This library - Parag Kumar Das Char Library and Research Centre was set up in 2016 by Jhai Foundation, an NGO. It is run by four young local volunteers: one is a science graduate and three have completed high school and all four help students with subjects like English, science and mathematics. Though they do charge a membership fee of Rs.5, it is not compulsory – whoever can pay, pays.
There are three primary schools. For higher education, students have to leave the island and make a risky journey by boat. As a result, the library caters to unmet educational needs and has become a learning hub. There is also a modified boat, which is used as a floating classroom when the school buildings get flooded.
There is no electricity on the island, but the library has a solar-powered lamp. The library is open seven days a week from 3 pm to 5 pm.
Hope libraries like these open up for crowd funding – so much can be done within our country if we only look around.