Turkish volunteer instills love of reading in village children

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Retired agricultural engineer Cuma Karaaslan has made it his new mission to provide books to children who have little access to them. Karaaslan, head of a local foundation in the eastern province of Bingöl and a longtime activist for several non-profit groups, personally delivers books he has collected through a social media campaign to children in Bingöl villages. Thanks to the campaign he launched last year during the COVID-19 pandemic when children were confined at home due to restrictions, he is offering a service to occupy idle young minds in need of stimulation.

His campaign generated huge interest online, with people across the country donating all kinds of books to Karaaslan. Prior to the initiative, Karaaslan had donated some 3,000 books from his personal library to children in the villages he had visited because they could not go to school and only had access to education. distance.

When schools reopened for in-person instruction last September, Karaaslan launched another campaign, this time asking for books to be donated to schools. Soon, books poured in from all provinces, from the capital Ankara to Istanbul. In one month, he collected 5,000 books, which he called on volunteers, all university students, to help him deliver them. Without being intimidated by her unreliable and prone to breakdown car and the challenges of reaching remote rural areas, Karaaslan sometimes travels hundreds of kilometers a day to bring books to children. He also lectures to children to whom he has delivered books on the importance of reading and sometimes joins them at mass reading events.

“When I first launched the campaign on social media, I received 1,000 pounds in no time and that number increased,” Karaaslan told Anadolu (AA) agency on Tuesday in the village. from Çavuşlar to Bingöl. Ahmet Kerey, who runs a local cultural and artistic association in the village, is the one who invited him and asked for children’s books. “They have a library here but couldn’t afford to buy books. We donated some 450 books to two schools here and organized a reading activity. I plan to travel to as many villages as possible, until my book reserves are exhausted, ”he said.

His next goal is to set up a mobile library that he can transport from village to village. “I don’t want schools or children without books and I want a child to read at least 200 books,” he says.

Zeynep Kebude, one of the children who received a free book, said she was excited to read something and promised to “read a lot more from now on”.


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