The new library here is very much a product of our friendship and support from people abroad. Robyn Ramsay from Australia had come to work here as a volunteer. While she was here she often noticed people of all ages, young and old, were sitting around playing cards, playing for money which to be honest they couldn’t afford to lose. At the same time other young people, in particular the boys, were sitting around or wandering about aimlessly with nothing to do. And it was clear that the things Robyn was seeing were leading to real problems for families and other villagers.
What she saw as an outsider tallied exactly with what we were seeing with our own eyes. However, we had never considered the possibility of establishing a library, even though the nearest available one is over 5 kilometres away. For one thing the habit of reading is dying out everywhere, as we become swept up in the age of mobile phones and computers. It was Robyn’s idea that a local library could provide a convenient and enjoyable way for people to appy their time and energy.
We certainly agreed that this alternative could go some way to solving these problems. So Robyn applied her best efforts to finding funding. Through her best efforts we got financial sponsorship from Apex in Malaney to build the library, and so her dream was transformed into reality.
Having a library has indeed helped to change things for the better here in Dabar. It is free and open to all. We now have about 400 books on a variety of subjects that are suitable for different ages. The library is open six days a week and we issue on average around 20 books a day. All kinds of people use the library but perhaps the majority are women and old people.
Many of the young people say the library is a resource for them to help find a job. Although the card playing does continue, there is less of it because there is one more alternative now. We will continue to use the library as a centre where we can foster a culture of reading in our community.
The library has also become a meeting place and something of a community centre, a real asset to the community and for what we are trying to do.
So kudos to Robyn Ramsay and Apex Malaney!