Sarang Darshane is a Mumbai-based journalist. Last year, during a visit to remote villages in Vidarbha for a story on farmer suicides, Darshane got chatting with the children who invariably chased the car he was travelling in. He was happy to find that the children attended school regularly, but surprised to discover that their reading was confined to textbooks — they had no other books. No fairy tales, mythology or books for the young — reading material urban children take for granted.
“I still remember one bright young girl who told me that she re-reads her textbooks because she has nothing else to read,” recalls Darshane.
On the other hand, many of us living in cities have bookshelves and storage spaces stacked with books and periodicals that we hope will, one day, serve some purpose. Even if we are not exactly sure when and how.
Now karmayog.org will help take these books from you and donate them to the nameless girl whose memory haunts Darshane. Karmayog will act as an interface between donors and those in need, and, as its mission statement proclaims, “improve your world by connecting like-minded people and organisations in your locality, city and world”. To this end, it has over 17,000 NGOs registered, nearly a thousand of them in Mumbai alone.
Vinay Somani, alumnus of IIT, Bombay, and Harvard Business School who started karmayog.com in 2004, is overwhelmed by the response to the Donate Books initiative launched a month ago. “This is an easy way to be generous.” Offers have come from all over — from CAs and bankers donating management books to parents giving away their college-going children’s CBSE textbooks.
The demand for books has also come from far and near — from Prerna, an NGO working with the underprivileged in Delhi, to an orphanage in Mastiput in Koraput district, Orissa, where there are no schools and an organisation working with terminally ill cancer patients, which wants books on spirituality. The books are collected at centres being set up in different cities and sent directly to the users.
“Someone donated old toys too. A man who runs a school for the mentally challenged in Badlapur was very happy to collect the toys for his centre,” smiles Somani.
As Karmayog has shown, one never knows who may need or be happy with something that you have no longer any use for.