KOCHI: “The only guy here whom I know for long is my husband,” said Somy Solomon as she watched the volunteers sorting out books and boxes strewn across the the room at SH School of Communication, Thevara, on Sunday. Somy, who came to Kerala from Africa for a brief vacation last week, had not met many of the men and women in the room before Saturday.
“Over the last six months, we all got bonded together by a single dream, one that was shared through Facebook - to make a library and learning centre at Kichankani,” said Somy, with a list of books in her one hand and Pachu, her two-year-old son, in the other. Somy was a history graduate and a JNU dropout when she married Wilkinson, who hails f rom Kumbalangi. Because of his job, the family moved to Kichankani, a remote village in Africa, a year ago.
“At Kichankani, I was shocked by the ignorance of the villagers that trapped them between the land mafia and corrupt officials. So, I wrote a post on Facebook six months ago, requesting help to start a learning centre and library there.
"To my surprise, the movement slowly picked up pace and became a roaring success within a few months. We collected around 5,000 books from across the country and abroad. They are being sorted and readied here for shipment,” she said. As in the case of the books, the service of the volunteers, who are engaged in the tedious job of sorting books, also was the result of appeals made on social media platforms like Facebook.
“I spoke twice at my school assembly, and requested to my neighbours and friends,” said Abijit K A, a Class-IX student of the KCP Higher Secondary School, Palakkad, who proudly introduced himself as the collector of about 1,000 books. Santhini, another volunteer, had come all the way from Bengaluru just to be part of the library movement. The books will find their way to Tanzania within a week or two, scripting a new chapter in the history of the social media campaigns originated in Kerala.
“The Kichankani campaign signify the best of what Facebook crowd-sourcing can do. We were doubtful about the success of the campaign when we started it. Now, we have as many books as any decent library in Kerala would have,” said Jikku Verghese, a regular social media commentator and volunteer.