Operation Mercy started Children’s Groups in 2009. At present we have 50 children’s groups, with an average of 15-20 children in each group. Most of the children come from poor families, whose mothers are members of our Self Help Groups.
We encourage children who are interested to buy books to save a small amount of money. When they buy their own books, it helps them to take better care of the books and proves to be a tremendous source of pride for them. We are building a culture of reading among the children. As they read, they learn to express new ideas, and their attitudes and behavior change positively. Children are asking for more books.
Currently 750 children are using or reading books published by Rahmet.
Three groups have established small libraries. In three areas we set up a reading competition for about 200 children. We used five books published by Rahmet, The Honest Woodsman, Amazing Facts of Animals, Wild Swans and other Fables, What do you think? and The Fearful Sparrow.
Here is what some children said;
Sina, “I was so excited when my teacher said we should read different books and they would test our comprehension. I am very happy our area won the competition. I will remember this day all of my life. It is the first time we’ve held a competition between children like this."
Reza (9 years) “I am happy because we have more information about different animals and cultures. We also shared our books with other children in the community.”
Zaker (10 years) “Before this, I used to wander the streets because I didn't have any hobby. Now I have books to read. The books are very interesting. I’ve read 10 stories which are full of many good messages. From the story about the snake and frog, I learned that if we choose bad friends they will lead us astray.”
Ali (9 years) “From the story, ‘The Red Tooth Demon,’ I learned that we should respect our parents. In another story, I learned that God created everything for humans and we should be satisfied and happy for these things.”
Shakila (11 years) “From the story, ‘Beautiful Princess,’ I learned how bad selfishness is. Regardless of our situation, we need to respect each other.”
Several children’s reading clubs ‘rent’ books to other community children.
The children in the reading club Roshan (Bright) worked together to build a cupboard to store their books. With pride they say, “We have a library in our group, we will get more our books and make real book shelves.”
Ali said the story about the honest woodsman taught him to be honest. “In our country it is very difficult to find honest people. This kind of book is good for us to learn from and even share with our parents.” The honest woodsman found a golden hammer but he didn’t touch it even though he was a poor man. Ali’s father said, “I am very happy my son is using his money for books instead of buying candies.”