In an Indonesian village where afternoons are spent napping, one fisherman is losing sleep so kids can read.
I can’t imagine my childhood without books.
Because of books, I could travel the world in one afternoon, every afternoon.
Books helped to make me who I am today.
So my heart cried out when I saw kids in remote villages in eastern Indonesia not having access to books.
I remember, five years ago, I asked some kids what they wanted to be when they grew up.
I heard only two answers: teacher or priest.
I have nothing against either profession, but the children couldn’t think of others because in their village – in their world – those were the only professions they saw.
A girl on Rinca Island told me: “I want to be a nurse, but I’m not sure if I can be one. It all depends on my dad. If he has the money, I can pursue my dream. If not, then… ”
She didn’t finish her sentence.
These kids were young, some as young as six, but they were already limiting their own dreams.
I believe that books can change that.
I believe that books will introduce them to a great big world and spark their imagination.
I believe that books can inspire children to dream, and give them the courage to dream big.
So, I set up a children’s library in Flores, eastern Indonesia.
Five years on, from one library we have grown into a foundation called Rainbow Reading Gardens, or Taman Bacaan Pelangi in Indonesian. We now have 29 libraries reaching 6,000 children in remote villages across 14 islands.
The volunteer caretakers for our libraries include farmers and fishermen, like Pak Baco.
I want every single child in eastern Indonesia to have access to books because that will help them to dream, and having a dream is so important because that will motivate them to learn and work hard to achieve it.
I know that once these kids love reading, you won’t be able to stop them.
Text by Nila Tanzil,