Ngurang Meena- The Woman Spearheading A Library Revolution In Arunachal Pradesh

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Posted in Arunachal Pradesh, Featured
  • Tanu Bulo, Itanagar

As is aptly written in her Instagram bio describing herself-  “A woman on (a) mission”, Ngurang Meena has ventured into a soulful journey to uplift and educate the community by instilling in young and old alike the habit of reading. In her own  words, she is “on a mission to outnumber the wine shops in Arunachal with Street Libraries.”

At age 30 she dons multiple hats- she is an educator, social activist, entrepreneur, and a proud tribal woman who could break the chains of patriarchy to become first in her family to attain higher education.

Her tryst with her passion to encourage reading and learning began in 2014 with the opening of Ngurang Learning Institute (NLI) which is a non-profit organization situated in Nirjuli. NLI works to empower men & women with a special focus on women in Arunachal Pradesh by enrolling them in Adult education programs.  The  Institute also imparts skill development and training.

During the first wave of the pandemic in 2020, when the whole world was under lockdown Meena while scrolling through Facebook stumbled upon an inspiring story of roadside Libraries running in Mizoram. This intrigued the young woman to initiate a similar endeavor in Arunachal Pradesh where she felt youths were losing attraction towards reading. Her personal experience further convinced her that it was not the eagerness to learn but the lack of access to learning materials that stopped many to take up reading. During her childhood, she didn’t have the privilege of reading more books because it was not easily accessible.  But her father whom she considers an inspiration always encouraged her to read more even though he could not get much education hailing from a remote village in Kurung Kumey district.

Her father Late Ngurang Pinch, therefore, played a pivotal role in instilling in her the zest and zeal to learn more and give more.

Since she started her first street library in August 2020 in Nirjuli there has been no looking back. Initially, she had to dish out expenses for the books and set up from her pocket but later she has found supporters from all corners of the world. She has also started a fundraiser on Ketto to accomplish her mission while inviting investments from like-minded people who want to contribute their little in this noble endeavor.

Currently, her free street library finds its presence in several districts of Arunachal including Tirap, Kurung Kumey, East Kameng, and Papumpare. These free libraries have a collection of books of all sorts- children, folk stories, fantasy, autobiographies, etc. These books have been either procured by Meena or were contributed by her supporters. With Funds pouring in from her fundraisers she has been able to procure more and install more self-help roadside libraries.

Arunachal Pradesh with an abysmal literacy rate of 65.38 % as per Census 2011 is in dire need of revamping its educational policies. “With the advent of internet and technology,  the books have further been relegated to the sideline”,  opines Meena. This is where the Roadside Libraries by Ngurang Meena hope to bridge the gap.

Her endeavor has been appreciated from all quarters of life. She was appreciated by CM Pema Khandu as well as PM Modi in his Mann ki Baat programme for her exemplary work.

Meena continues to do her bit. Recently she has started installing home libraries to help empower the students and children to read books. Her Love Laugh Read initiative continues to touch the lives of many. Her indomitable spirit continues to inspire young and old alike. Her dream of outnumbering wine shops with street libraries hopefully will come true soon as the movement she has started showing promising results.

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