January 13, 2017:
The second project I set out to document for Kaythi and the Global Community Service Foundation was their new Mobile Library which was set up in January 2016. Since Inle Lake is comprised of about 42 villages on or around the 45 square mile lake, many of the village children have limited access to books or other reading materials. The goal of the library is encourage reading, create an excitement for books and to help the children gain otherwise inaccessible knowledge.
The day I spent with Mobile Library (in its donated, brightly colored boat named Sylvia) we stopped in the village of Hsee Hsone where 22 students had gathered for the 3-5 hour program. The day included checking out books, story time with the librarian Ma Than Shwe Aye, as well as teaching proper book maintenance and making sure the books stay clean, dry and undamaged. The library currently spends every Saturday and Sunday at a different village in 4 week cycles. This allows them to serve 8 villages and each child will get to see the library once a month – if they read both their books before the month is up, they are encouraged to swap with other students so they always have something new to read.
The library currently owns about 1000 books and serves roughly 400 students, usually meeting in a communal space or a monastery. In addition the basic library functions, whenever they start in a new village they take time to teach the children proper hygiene practices like washing their hands and brushing their teeth. Finally, the library also brings along current weekly and monthly news journals and newspapers for the adults in the community so there is something to encourage some parents to come along as well.
For the future of the program, Kaythi hope to expand the book selection as well as trying to bring an art program to the communities along with the library.