|Phạm Thanh Tuấn with the children he helps in poor, remote areas in the Central Highlands. — Photo courtesy of Tuấn|
CENTRAL HIGHLANDS — Since June last year, a mobile library has brought books to 50 primary schools in remote areas giving ethnic children the chance to read.
Phạm Thanh Tuấn, founder of the "Spring Library" project, said that the small van transporting books visited Đắk Lắk, Đắk Nông, Gia Lai and Kon Tum provinces.
It brings books to poor remote villages where schools do not have enough space or staff to open their own library.
In 2019, while working at Buôn Ma Thuột Coffee and Book Street, Tuấn realised that the more remote an area is, the less books they have.
He also understood transportation between these far flung areas is also a major problem.
In the Central Highlands, the distance between districts is often long, sometimes up to 100km. It is an obstacle for many potential readers, who cannot access events held in the centre.
Tuấn started a project to bring books to villages after finishing his job operating the coffee and book street.
But the first difficulty the project encountered was transportation as they struggled with dusty roads in the dry season and muddy roads in the rainy season.
Realising that transporting a large number of books by motorbike was not feasible, Tuấn and his team of volunteers began to apply the mobile library model.
With a small van full of books and equipment to organise fun days, he is able to reach more off-the-beaten-track schools, organise interesting activities, and most importantly, inspire children to love books.
For many ethnic children, reading Vietnamese books is still a barrier so Tuấn prioritises vivid picture books with few words so that all the children can enjoy.
“Children deserve the best conditions despite where they are, whether in urban or rural areas,” said Tuấn.
“The Spring Library visits schools with a mission: let children be who they want to be. Besides books, there are many toys on the van, which have been donated to the project.
Tuấn believes that each journey connects love from the community to the children.
Tuấn doesn’t just deliver books, but also spends time listening to the children’s wishes.
He said: “When I first came to remote areas, I asked the children which item they liked most, candy, toys or books. Most of them choose toys first, then books, then candy.
"If we only bring books to the remote areas, we cannot attract the children because they want to play first. So I started doing activities with books as the centre.”
He also connects with local volunteers who love children and use the books to organise activities.
At small schools, he and the volunteers place books and toys under the trees and play and read together with the children.
“The children enjoy reading under the trees because they no longer feel tired after class,” he said.
“For me, the image of volunteers who direct the children reading books under the trees is the best image,” he said.
The second most important thing is showing the children how to apply knowledge in books into life, because after all, reading books is to help children to be better in their daily life.
The volunteers often spend around half a day at each school and even build small bookshelves.
Up to now, the "Spring Library" van has visited 50 schools and given out nearly 15,000 books and built 150 bookshelves.
“Every child has talent. Happy education is respecting and creating conditions for that talent to develop,” said Tuấn. — VNS