A book bank that enriches students
Sarabjeet Singh helps students from lower income families by lending them text books to enable them to appear for competitive exams
Ambika Tripathi 24 July 2023 7:53 AM GMT
Malkeet Singh was always on the look out for books in Braille. The class eleven student was blind in both eyes, but was good in studies. But for him to buy books in Braille was an expensive proposition. But help came from an unexpected quarter — a Book Bank. Malkeet got the books he needed from the book bank, studied hard and today, the 22-year-old holds a government job.
It is not uncommon that many students like Malkeet, for want of funds to buy books, do not appear for competitive exams. And, it was this fact that inspired Sarabjit Singh to a book bank at Muktar Sahib in Punjab.
"I lost my eyesight when I was 12 years old . I met Sarabjit Sir who helped me a lot. I did well in my board exams and did my Bachelors too. In 2021, I got a government job. It has been two years and now I am preparing to do my Masters,” Malkeet told Gaon Connection.
Sarabjeet couldn’t be happier. “I remember the words of my teacher when I was preparing for a competitive exam. She told me, ‘your knowledge will increase if you teach others’,” he told Gaon Connection. He started taking tuitions for school children but soon realised he could do more.
Sarabjeet recalled how every year once he was done with that year’s books, he would dispose of them as trash. But soon, he realised those very same books could be of great value to others. “So, along with a few like minded friends, I began the book bank in 2019,” he said. He also sold old newspapers and with the money bought more text books that could be of use to the students.
Then, they decided to find a shop in the centre of town where the books could be kept and be easily accessed by whoever needed them.
The lockdown applied the brakes to their initiative. And, some of Sarabjeet’s friends moved away to other things.
“But there were many people who encouraged us and told us what a great initiative the book bank was and so we persevered and got it back on its feet and going,” Sarabjeet said.
Sarabjeet runs a bakery too which gives him some ready money to keep the book bank running smoothly.
“While I am at the bakery, Bakhtawar Singh, who has retired from the army, minds the book bank for me. We have about 2000 books in the bank, and we spread the word about the book bank through facebook on social media,” he said.