Isha with her consignment of books Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: As India celebrates 75 years of its Independence, children at a small school in a village in Karaikudi, in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, will have an extra reason to rejoice — they have been gifted literary independence by the generous children of UAE.

It all started during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 when schools were forced to adopt e-learning. Isha Rajeev Nair, a Year 3 student from Kings School Nad Al Sheba, Dubai, took up the initiative to help the less-fortunate children in India whose education had been disrupted due to the pandemic. She started conducting online e-learning sessions for children, where she read out stories and poems to them. 
Isha said: “I have been an avid reader from a very young age and the very thought of not being able to read or have access to books was very disturbing.

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Isha says she is grateful that the initiative, ‘From One Child to Another Child — Every Book Matters’ was a success. Image Credit: Supplied

I have been inspired by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler or Dubai, who said: “Help youngsters read as it is a key to promoting the development of nations. The love of reading is taught from an early age and becomes a habit and culture that you cannot live without.”

With the help of Storytime, an NGO based in India, Isha reached out to a needy school and started an initiative called ‘From One Child to Another Child — Every Book Matters’.

Through this initiative, pre-loved story books for children in the age group of four to 14 years were collected, sanitised and shipped to India, where a library is currently being set up at the school in Karaikudi. Till date, more than 200 books have been collected and sent to the school.

Help also came in from many quarters, with the biggest support coming from the students and parents of Kings School Nad Al Sheba. As word spread, Isha started receiving books from children in the Mudon community where she lives, as well as others. Inspired by the success of this pilot project, Isha has now started consecutive donation drives to help schools in rural and remote villages in Darjeeling and Assam in India to set up libraries.

Isha has also received huge support from her peers at Water Alliance, a UAE based non-profit organisation focused on conservation of water, where she is an ambassador, and also from Green Gratitude, a student-led initiative for environmental conservation.