BHUBANESWAR: The ‘Bada Didis’ have already earned a lot of respect and admiration ever since they set up the first roadside open library near the Arts College in Malkangiri.
A year since the endeavour which has endeared a group of tribal women to locals, the ‘Bada Didis’ extended the library facility to the remote Bonda hills, some 60 km from Malkangiri.
On Diwali, the women brought the light of knowledge to Mudulipada village in Khairput block. The library is stocked with 80 books in Odia, Hindi and English languages and meant for competitive examinations and classroom studies. The libraries are modelled on a similar initiative which started in Arunachal Pradesh’s Nirjuli, and which in turn was inspired by the bird-box libraries in Mizoram capital Aizawl.
The Bonda hills library was inaugurated by 50-year-old Chhanaki Kirsani, a Bonda women, who is supportive of higher education for girls and often convinces them to study instead of migrating to work as daily labourers. Currently, the library stays open from 8 am to 8 pm and offers a chance to read as well as borrow books.
“We set up the library in the Bonda hills as children of this area have been unable to attend online classes due to unavailability of internet. Books will be of great help to the youngsters in higher studies,” said Jayanti Buruda, a volunteer from ‘Bada Didi’, the organisation of 60-odd tribal women.
A few years back, the volunteers had set up a library in Malyabant Hostel that houses orphans, but when the response was not encouraging, they moved it near the Arts College.
Around Rs 10,000 was spent to build the Bonda hills library, transportation and on lighting arrangements. The money was provided by block development officer (Kalimela) Uma Shankar Dalei, the volunteers themselves and two of their friends. “It is a great initiative by the girls to open a library in the remote Bonda hills area. I contributed to support their endeavour,” said Dalei, who gave Rs 3,000.
Two volunteers — Sukanti Kirsani, a Plus III commerce student, and Sumit Sisa, a graduate, (both of them from the Bonda tribe) — will look after the library. They have also placed two chairs to facilitate reading. The library will also benefit around 80 boys and girls staying in the two sevashram hostels at Mudulipada. “Students from six villages will benefit as they often have to come to the place to catch a bus to reach the block headquarters,” said Buruda.
Members of ‘Bada Didi’ are drawn from Paraja, Koya, Bhumia, Kui Kandha and Bonda (a particularly vulnerable tribal group) tribes. On Diwali, they also gifted a refrigerator to Sukanti Kirsani, who sells vegetables at Mudulipada but did not have a place to store them.


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