Mubashir Mushtaq, an undergraduate science student, is helping a number of students in fulfilling their dreams by setting up a library in Helmatpora village of district Kupwara.
Named as ‘Let’s Talk Library-Books for all’, library setup in a single room is one stop for the underprivileged students who prepare for various competitive examinations.
The library houses a number of books of competitive exams including NEET, JEE, JRF, NET, UPSC and study material for class 11th and 12th. Besides, fiction and poetry books are also available. In just two months, 28 registrations have been made by students and elderly locals.
It was in 2019 when Mubashir was in 12th grade, he started researching about child labour and child abuse. He went to a number of villages, started door to door campaigns in order to create awareness among people about these issues.
During his campaigns, he realized that the reason of child labour and school dropouts is the unaffordability of education by parents.
He said, “Some can’t afford better education for their kids while some are not even able to provide the basic education to their children. When the kids start earning at an early age, they get more responsibilities on their shoulders which doesn’t let them go back to their studies. The problem summed around these two issues.”
He decided to do something for the underprivileged children of his village by setting up a library.
He said, “Post covid, I searched for some magazines in the whole Kupwara but I couldn’t find them. I realized that the kids preparing for competitive exams would find it even difficult to get the proper resources. The place is devoid of proper study material.”
When he started to discuss the idea of setting up a library with his elders and peers, he was told to do something for himself first instead of standing for other people. He didn’t pay heed to them and continued what he was upto.
Without giving a second thought, he went to a number of places in Srinagar and other districts to collect books from people. The news got spread which builds his connections with the people in the collection of books.
“They would give me books and would often laugh at me, thinking I was wasting my time over the mundane activity,” he said adding, he collected the books for one and a half years.
“People would often discourage me but I realized that because of the handful of people, I don’t need to step back. I was doing it for thousands of students and I didn’t care about criticism,” he said.
With more than 1600 books on varied subjects, he set up a library in a small 10×14 room for students and the needy students started to visit the place.
By and by people started getting in touch with him to donate more books to his library. Now, he is also planning to get magazines and daily newspapers in the library to keep the students updated.
“Everybody should have access to books. Not only books, I want to provide a platform for students where I can have interaction and counsel them. Students here don’t have much information,” he said.
Mubashir couldn’t qualify NEET but he wanted others to prepare for the exams and qualify it. Currently his library offers good study material for the competitive exams. Apart from the donations, he has purchased some of the books on his own.
In Kupwara, he said, there are very few libraries in educational institutes that possessoutdated edition of books.
“On meeting with the district administration, I highlighted the same issue and told them to upgrade such libraries,” he said.
He further said that the idea of opening libraries in the valley is very uncommon and the locals of his village often misjudge his library with the bookshop.
He hopes that like him, others would also come forward with such initiatives and open the libraries at their places.
His plan is to make a library in every district. For that, he has started the process of collecting books and has also started a book donation campaign in SP college, Srinagar where he is currently studying.
He said, “My dream is to provide books at the doorsteps of the people. For places with uncertain situations, community libraries can be of great help. I don’t want anyone to stay back because of the unaffordability of books.”