(Photo features (l to r) Rotarians Parva Nayer, Julie Pescod and Geraint Jenkins.)

The Nilgiris (translated as The Blue Mountains) is in the southern part of India. A beautiful area, over 7,500 feet above sea level. The Rotary Club of Caterham has set up a link with the Rotary Club of the Nilgiris, based in Coonoor, a small town. The main industry there is Tea, with vast estates. The area is rural, with many small schools catering for the children of tea-pickers and other tea-related workers.

A major undertaking of Rotary India, is Rotary India Literacy Mission ( RILM), which aims to improve adult and child literacy, child development, teacher and school support and e-learning. The many Rotary Clubs of India have adopted different aspects of the project to work on. In Coonoor, the project is “ Vanga Padikkalam “, which translates as “ Come, Let Us Read “. Rotarian Chandana, who is the lead for the project says “ the aim is to inculcate the habit of reading among children from the rural areas by improving school libraries and providing easy to read picture books in English and Tamil languages.”

So far, hundreds of books have been distributed across several schools. The teachers are finding ways to promote reading. The Rotary Club of the Nilgiris is now planning to have interactive reading sessions, and other activities with young volunteers and the school children.

This is an ongoing project, the intention being to provide more books and other help to the rural schools over the coming years.

In our Club this initiative was driven by Rotarian Parva Nayer with support from Rotarian Julie Pescod who emailed several local primary schools asking for any unwanted books which we could send to India.

Books were supplied from St Francis School, St Peter and St Paul and the Valley School in Bromley and Caterham Valley Library. The books were packed into boxes prior to and then shipped to the Nilgiris.  Julie commented “It is so wonderful to think that children in India will benefit greatly from these books which were surplus to requirements in this country. Great cooperation too between Rotary groups internationally.”

(Photos from Rotary Nigiris featuring some of their members dealing with the distribution of the books.)