Muskan Ahirwar, a 10-year-old slum dweller in Bhopal, was conferred the ‘Women Transforming Award’ by grappler and Rio Olympics bronze medallist Sakshi Malik on Friday in New Delhi for running a library.
Muskan was honoured with the award at an event organised by Niti Aayog in which 12 other women were also felicitated for their contributions in various developmental programmes. The 10-year-old librarian gifted a set of comic books on Maharani Lakshmi Bai to Malik.
The ceremony was graced by delegates such as Arvind Pangariya, vice chairman, Niti Aayog; Chanda Kochhar, managing director, CEO, ICICI Bank and Kiran Majumdar Shaw, managing director, Bioc6on Ltd among several others.
“I am very happy. I used to see functions like this on TV but have never imagined that I will be on such a stage one day. Sakshi Didi (grappler) told me that she will read the books I gave her. She asked me to continue reading and making other children read books too,” an elated Muskan told HT over phone.
When others her age sell rags or do menial jobs to support their families, Muskaan chose the path of education and caught attention of representatives of Rajya Shiksha Kendra during a quiz contest organised by them at Arera Hills in February. A library named ‘Bal Pustakalay’ was then built in March in the area and Muskaan was offered the post of its librarian which she willingly accepted.
The library, situated near her home, receives books supplied by Rajya Shiksha Kendra. “Many Didi-Bhayiaa (elders) are helping me. They come and teach us many a time, give us books to read and clear our queries,” said Muskan.
Rahul Kumar Mehra, an M Tech from Bhopal, assists Muskan in running the library and has accompanied her to the capital. “I visit libraries regularly and got to know about Bal Pustakalay a few months before. I help Muskan with managing books, hold quiz competitions for children and also teach her how to maintain a register of books lent. A few of my batch mates regularly visit the library to borrow books and monitor reading habits of children,” said Mehra.