We are currently engaged in the construction of a small library in Taungbi, a farming village in Bagan. The library will play a key role in increasing the general knowledge of villagers and in inspiring children to follow higher educational levels. In the past, the villagers were content to work as farmers, which required little or no education; yet these activities did not yield a sustainable income as it was only seasonal. With the increase of tourism in Bagan, residents of Taungbi now work as horse-cart drivers during the dry months, escorting tourists from site to site. Through this interaction with foreigners and involvement in the tourism industry, the villagers have realized that education is important to achieve a better livelihood. However access to reading materials is limited in Bagan and, despite the desire to learn more, the residents of Taungbi have little opportunity to increase their level of English and their general knowledge. They have tried, over recent years, to obtain the funds necessary to build and run a library but have been unsuccessful in this mission. They are excited about the possibility of receiving funding to complete this project as well as the guidance to ensure its ongoing success.
The first phase involved the construction of the building structure, which was financed by a respected tour operator in Germany and with the help of Myanmar Diaries. This stage has now been completed. At the moment, the library is an open -plan building but in the next phase it will be covered into two rooms divided by a large bookshelf and a shaded outdoor area will be developed. The two rooms will be used for different purposes: one for children and teenagers and the other for the public. The idea is to make the library welcoming and relaxed, where people with all levels of skill are able to enjoy the materials and practice their reading skills freely. The decoration and on-going improvement of the library will be a collaborative effort between the villagers and donors. There are plans to create a wall-hanging bookshelf, build furniture, design a kids’ corner and add a small garden outside. To further encourage villagers to utilize the library, we plan to centralize activities such as story time for the younger children, the collaboration of ‘guest teachers’ such as international visitors who will come to teach the young adults, and guest speakers who can educate and inform the villagers about topics such as hygiene, plastic waste disposal, malaria prevention, etc. Since the inception of the project we have documented the mission, concept, planning and development in a ‘history book’ which will continue to follow the progress of the library and the improvements in the lives of the villagers. We are excited about the long-term impact of this project and are delighted to be working with the villagers of Taungbi, who are eager for the additional educational support.
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