Highlighting Feedback from 2011 WaterBridge Outreach Participant: Dharma Chakkra Child Foundation Library, Sri Lanka

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Our WaterBridge Outreach: Books + Water Nourishing the Mind and Body program (formerly known as Spirit of PaperTigers Outreach)  seeks to further the overall goals of the PaperTigers Program: bridging cultures and opening minds, promoting greater understanding and empathy among young people from different backgrounds, countries, and ethnicities. More specifically, WBOutreach works to advance education through books and reading, and development through clean and accessible water.

Today on the blog we are highlighting feedback from WBOutreach participant Dharma Chakkra Child Foundation Library located in the Dharma Chakkra Children’s Home in Weedagama, Sri Lanka. Established in 1998, the home provides housing and education for approximately 100 orphaned boys as well as for boys from unstable homes. In 2008 a second children’s home was opened exclusively for girls. Nia Murphy was instrumental in getting a 2011 Book Set to the Dharma Chakkra Child Foundation Library and  for providing us with this feedback:

The books were put in the children’s shared library. Dharma Chakkra has two hostels, one for the girls and then another, about 200 metres away and behind a wall, for the boys. The library is in the boys’ hostel. When I was last at the home the library was open in the evenings for the boys to use freely. Since then they’ve decided to shut it except at weekends when they have library time and English classes. I was told the books were used by the English teacher during these classes. However it was felt the books were a bit difficult for some of the children at the home, many of whom are still struggling with Sinhala, the local language. This is mostly true of the boys but the girls, who unfortunately have less access to the library, are at a higher standard. In hindsight I think a donation only for the girls’ hostel might have been a good idea. This was my mistake.

The overriding feedback was actually about the visuals: that the books showed children things they don’t normally see in ‘normal’ (read affordable) English or Sinhala books. Many of the books they have in the library are very old and extremely out of date. The affordable English books on the market in Sri Lanka are often things like The Radiant Way, which is a very dated old English sort of publication with smiling white children in high socks. Very simply, seeing children in picture books with brown skin is a rarity. So they were particularly excited about this, and the fact the children were seeing worlds not too dissimilar to their own but ones not normally presented in children’s books.

Click here to read the rest of Nia’s report.