Books + Literacy Materials for The Merasi School ~ Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India
The children of the Merasi School are considered untouchable. As such they are denied access to most education. Since 2010 WaterBridge Outreach has worked with New York-based Folk Arts Rajasthan (FAR) and India-based Lok Kala Sagar Sansthan (LKSS) (two nonprofit organizations bound together by a shared vision of a thriving and just future for the Merasi people and their musical culture) to put books into the hands of Merasi School students. Often these books must be hand delivered as all mailed material will likely be stolen from the untouchable community traditionally known as Manganiyar (meaning “beggar”).
By providing books to the Merasi School, WBO seeks to encourage literacy, develop understanding and seek to make reading a lifelong habit and pleasure. In our feature article A Library Grows in the Desert FAR Executive Director Karen Lukas offers a moving testimonial to what the book donations mean for the Merasi School in the Great Thar Desert:
“A testimonial from FAR must start with ... you have brought a sense of self-worth to Merasi children. To have a room filled with beautiful books they are allowed to touch and to choose from, is for them simply remarkable.
To the best of my knowledge, there is no Merasi family that owns a children's book; their caste, poverty and illiteracy being the driving factors.”
Karen's words remind us of the immense power stories have to open our hearts and minds to other people and other cultures, and to connect us all. In January 2015, WBO friends and supporters Jenny Li and Angelo Lamola, visited the Merasi School on behalf of WBO and delivered 245 books and dvds. Learn more about this trip in our feature interview with Jenny and Angelo by clicking here.
Besides having a lack of books and educational material Merasi School has never had its own drinking water and, in close collaboration with FAR and LKSS, WaterBridge Outreach installed a sizeable water tank, with water purifier, to remedy this need. By focusing on book and water projects together, WaterBridge Outreach continues to promote literacy and encourage children to become lifelong readers while trying to alleviate environmental challenges: hence our banner, “Books + Water- Nourishing the Mind and Body”.
Learn more about WaterBridge Outreach's other books + water projects at Merasi School:
Photo Credit: Jules Feeney, Sarwar Khan, the Merasi youth, and Karen Lukas