Bhaju Ram Takachen Shrestha
Several years ago, while walking in London, I saw a lady reading a book keeping an eye ahead once in a while but engrossed in the book. I saw many people reading books there, giving me an impression that England was the nation of the books, and United States is not behind on that either. The new generation might have changed their outlook on books till certain extent, still Francis Bacon's statement, "Reading makes man perfect' seem to be found in the veins of Western people.
But what is happening in Asia? Or our country? The culture of mobile has created distraction from liking of books and till certain extent even in social relationship. In the name of technology, the power of this world has been trying to mediocarize the young people with additional limb called mobile. Like anything we have in the world, we can use and abuse , we can abuse mobile too swimming into what is not important that contributes the waste of time which is the gift of the Creator.
Not to develop the negative toward mobile but to make one of the best use of it by digital library through it or internet, the Asia Foundation in Nepal launched a noble project on September 13, 14, 2017 in National College of Kathmandu. In a country where we have money to buy everything but books, about 75 authors, editors, translators, teachers, Nepali language experts, librarians, government educational workers and students were brought together by Asia Foundation to launch a project to translate books in Nepali language for the children of various ages. The project that started in Thailand for the South East Asia was felt its need in Nepal, so under the program in-charge, Ms. Shameera Shrestha, invited those personals to venture out the project in translating books in Nepali language for the children, which will be available digitally throughout the world. The Asia Foundation felt the need to create the passion for books among young generation, to make aware of other culture and values, to teach language and moral values. So welcoming and giving some hints on translation by Ms.Shameera, the group was divided into two: one group as editors and another group as translators. The translators teamed up into various groups and went to classrooms to translate while the editors waited for the translators to send their work to edit them. The books were provided through the website, (www.letsreadasia.org). The books were written by different authors from different people and cultural background, and the books were in various levels ranging from beginners to intermediate level. The group or an individual could translate the books according to their level of interest. Sapana, the founder director of Nepal Japan Children Public Library and I chose to translate the books for the beginner's level. In two days we translated five books and sent to the editors to check and publish them in the digital library. This workshop was to be just the beginning of translation of books to be put in the internet also for the mobile (Android.aps) freely available and can be downloaded.
The overall response from the participants was great and felt a great experience. They were happy to be the part of making the children's life different through books.
There were feedback sessions in both days when they were able to exchange ideas on translation, word play, motivation toward books etc. The two days amiable session ended by Mr. Kyle Barker of Asia Foundation from the United States as he distributed an appreciation card to the participants.
It was great to see 75 people who were not so known to each other among most of them wired together to fire the books in Nepali language for the children to make them perfect their future life for themselves and the nation.
The program, Let's read Asia, has been one of the noble wings of Asia Foundation.
The Asia Foundation’s Books for Asia program supports community and public libraries in Nepal develop reading cultures and promote quality education. The Books for Asia program started donating books to the Central Library of Tribhuvan University in late 1980s and since 1992 has regularly distributed books to a range of educational institutions, NGOs, government agencies, and community & public libraries throughout the country. As of August 2017, Books for Asia has donated 377,088 books to 1,535 institutions.
It is not worshiping books or putting it on one's head as if it were a god according in our culture, that transforms the life to be a better person but by the reading habit. I wish the Asia Foundation will continue to expand its prized task to make Nepal read.