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South India Programs

Milena Lurie GLP volunteer Milena Lurie and her friends are working towards ten libraries in rural India!

The idea of running a book drive to create libraries for rural India children may be fate or it might be serendipity for Milena Lurie. In August 2007 she and her mother visited South Africa for a short vacation. Interested in the people of that nation, they held several conversations about the challenges facing people who had to live under systems of exclusion. In one evening's discussion of the system of apartheid a family friend mentioned the plight of the outcastes in India. This conversation came up as Milena and her mother had mentioned their hopes to visit India for their next summer vacation.

In following up about the Dalits, Milena would discover that in India, there is still a struggle to overcome older ideas of caste exclusion, especially for Dalits formerly called "outcaste" or "untouchable."

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In a stroke of serendipity, another family friend mentioned that his daughter had had a really rewarding experience by collecting books and helping to set up libraries for several schools in South Africa (through GLP). This gave Milena the idea to see if she could do a similar project for students in India.

With a positive answere from GLP, Milena then had to identify where to locate her project. As GLP already had an interest in the South India state of Tamil Nadu she decided to follow up on an NGO that had been favorably reccommended to her. The Integrated Rural Development Centre (IRDC) is a secular non-profit organisation that focuses it activities on the rural areas of Gandarvakottai--a sub-district of some 37 village in the Pudukottai district (click HERE for map) of Tamil Nadu state in South India. IRDC supports children from three to five years old in early childhood learning centres and works with ten local government run primary schools where they provide supplementary education and coaching with the goal of preventing students from dropping out from school.

Students outside Lady Lynn Joyful HomeThe IRDC also runs the Lady Lynn Joyful Home--providing shelter as well as a nurturing environment to orphaned or neglected children from the villages of Pudukottai District.

A library for the orphanage's school was created and now Milena is now working towards libraries for ten surrounding schools!

Here is the FLYER that Milena used to promote the program. The response was been incredible! Students from as far away as the El Rodeo School in Beverly Hills, California all supported the India book drive.

Milena raised the cost of shipping the collected books to India and she is now fund raising towards the cost to create each school library.

See more about this story in SPAN, magazine of the American Embassy in New Delhi HERE.

Other media coverage: 1 | 2

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