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A Section 8 Registered Non Profit Organization


Himalayan Volunteer Tourism / Sharing is Caring  / Shubham Badhani – Ghoda Library

Shubham Badhani – Ghoda Library

Shubham Badhani - Ghoda Library

A novel mobile library for mountain children

“Libraries store the energy that fuels the imagination. They open up windows to the world and inspire us to explore and achieve, and contribute to improving our quality of life.”

Back in the old days, libraries used to be the heaven for many who needed to spend some time in peace, to connect to a different world of imagination and knowledge. People in urban areas anyways had easy access to information through TV and huge libraries or workshops and trainers to enhance their knowledge. But, for rural children, getting their hands onto one random book somewhere, would open a new window to the world, outside their little hamlet. 

The libraries of the world are under threat. Jon Bing makes a point “To ask why we need libraries at all, when there is so much information available elsewhere, is about as sensible as asking if roadmaps are necessary now that there are so very many roads.”

So, there are still hundreds of remote villages which are not connected with the internet or social media. There are still millions of children who are eager to learn about the world outside. And…getting an opportunity to read a book is a dream come true.

And this dream was made into a reality by Shubham Badhani and his most innovative idea of a ‘ Ghoda Library’. Yes…a library on walking, trotting horse, which has access to climb up to the most remotest of locations , across difficult terrains and with standing changing climatic conditions. What a unique idea !!!

Shubham Badhani belongs to a small town of Haldwani, Nainital, Uttrakhand. One of the popular tourist destinations amongst Indian Hill stations. Yet, one can’t deny that this region is part of the himalayan range with difficult and tough terrains. Most of the rural villages are based on mountain slopes, where there are hardly any proper schools or decent basic facilities.

Shubham, born in a farmers family, grew up with six siblings. Pampered by his five elder sisters, Shubham suddenly had to face the news of his fathers demise, when he was in class four. Complete responsibility of managing the household came on his mothers’ shoulders. When times get tough tough, the tough get going. And his mother took charge and decided to earn, to bring up her seven children. This is what true Indian women are made of. Pure will power and mental strength. She worked on the farm, walking for hours to just reach the location, and finally got all her children educated. His elder sisters would give tuition later and manage expenses. So it was not an easy journey for Shubham, he learnt early in life that good education gives a strong foundation to build on later. He completed his BASC, DL ED, MA Sociology, MA.Ed and Library Educator course.

Shubham is 29 now and working as a  Development Librarian at Sarkari Prathmik Vidyalaya. During his treks uphill, he used to see that the children had no access to books or any reading material. They were completely cut off from the outside world or any hope for a better career. There was hardly any mental development or boudhik vikas , as Shubham says, sadly.

Unless there is awareness and exposure, the next generation of mountain children will once again, live in deprivation. Development has reached most rural villages but due to extreme climates and high altitude issues, there are no pathways for vehicles to reach these locations.

One day Shubham noticed that the local horses were carrying loads for the villagers and this mode of transport has been used since centuries across the world. It hit him,  why couldn’t children’s books be transported in the same way, right up to their homes or one central place, where children could come and read books and then return them back? And this was how the idea of Ghoda Library was born.

With this plan in mind, Shubham started creating a team with friends who could put this into action. They collected books and discussed this idea with local villagers. Changing mindset is a Herculean task !!

Where survival is the only priority, reading books for children is a far-fetched dream. So it took months to convince the villagers to at least try this experiment. They requested a few horse owners to allow them to use their horses once a week. And then the plan was put into motion. Minimum two volunteers/ caretaker cum mobile librarian goes along with the horse. The books would be displayed on the horse, hanging them on ropes. The horse actually looked decorated with picture books!. The horse is taken to a designated place between a cluster of homes and the ghoda library gets into action. The children now come running to choose their books. It is like a little mela. At times there are 4 or 5 volunteers who go alone and help the children to read or even sing along or perform small plays. It is an all round learning with fun activities.

This Ghoda Library has become a real hit in the mountains of Nainital. At present there are about 10 horses which Shubham gets on rotation from villagers. Once a week, the mobile library goes trotting up,on different routes, with the  books. The list is maintained. Next week, they exchange the books and the library system has been put into action. This is a real novel method of opening up young minds.  Most importantly, libraries are the places where you can expect smart and clear answers to even the most difficult questions. Now children can get answers from General knowledge books which come with their Ghoda library. This will definitely help the children in their school studies and improve their knowledge and literacy levels.

As easy as it sounds, obstacles are always part of the game. Soon, they were falling short of books as this whole project was being run on voluntary donations of books. Secondly, the volunteers who went with this mobile library, also expected some remuneration for walking uphill and spending the whole day with the horse. With just small donations, it was difficult for Shubham to sustain this dream. Yet, he and his team are managing to continue this project and reaching to more and more remote locations.

Shubham hopes that some publication houses come forward to sponsor the supply of books so that more routes and hundreds of more children can get access to this Ghoda library. Even the Ghoda wala and library caretaker would need some regular income so yes, funds or sponsorships  would be required soon.

Shubham’s goal is to see that children across the Himalayan ranges and all mountain regions gain access to books, in spite of their locations, through such Ghoda Libraries.

“Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.”- Walter Cronkite

People like Shubham are pure examples of today’s youth, who want to take up responsibility to bring in change in rural India and they must be applauded and supported. We must also give complete credit to his mother and sisters who never gave up and focused on getting themselves educated and getting degrees to become self-sufficient and self-reliant. These are the people who are the future of Nav Bharat.

Salamat Raho project salutes such hero’s who are true game changers.

To send books for Ghoda Library –

Shubham Badhani

Sankalp Youth Foundation

Village – Anwalakot, Jhulabazar.

P.O- Kotabagh

Nainital, Uttrakhand

Pin- 263159.

Contact no – 9756353142

Email- shubhambadhani11111@gmail.com