Inspiring Rural Prosperity | Rural Education and Development
Senorains | Omer Rains | Inspiration
The Oceanic Library was the first project developed in India by Rural Education and Development (READ) Global and READ India, working in concert with the Village of Ullon, West Bengal, India. The Oceanic Library lies on the Bay of Bengal near the mouth of the sacred Ganges River. Its name is derived from its principal funding source, “The Oceanic Protective Settlement,” of which former California Senator Omer Rains is Settlor.
If you visit the Oceanic Library website, you will find four attached pdf files. The attachments speak to the commitment by READ to the more disadvantaged and impoverished of the people of India—a country that both feeds the soul and tears at the heart at the same time. The first of these files provides information in both narrative and pictorial form that explains in part why READ selected Ullon Gram south of Calcutta, now known as Kolkata, to build the first of what will eventually be numerous projects in what is still an impoverished country of over one billion people. Ullon Gram (Gram means village in Bengali) is in the Sunderban region of India, one of the last true sanctuaries of the Bengal Tiger.
The second file provides a more complete pictorial overview of the groundbreaking/foundation stone laying ceremony. The schools that you will see near the end of the second pdf were, for the most part, built by the British in the 1860’s—approximately 150 years ago. There are very few books and those that do exist are kept locked in old and dusty cabinets. Many of the children seen (usually those clothed in green) are orphans who have been given a home by VSSU, a wonderful organization that is helping villages in all parts of West Bengal in more ways than can here be enumerated. READ is very blessed to be working in Ullon with its inspirational leader, a man named Kapilananda Mondal who truly walks in the shoes of Gandhi, and other new friends READ has made in and around Ullon Gram.
The third file highlights the inauguration of the Oceanic Library. As Mr. Rains was recovering from a detached retina operation and could not fly, his daughter Jessica represented him in Ullon where she delivered inaugural remarks and cut the tape officially opening the Library. She is found wearing a blue dress in several of these photographs.
The fourth file shows the completed Oceanic Library building, as well as typical homes inside the village. A smiling “taxi-cab” driver on a bicycle is the customary transportation service in the village. The beautiful tiled floor, the state-of-the-art honey processing facility, and children happily studying are also shown. The Library houses a playground, conference rooms, and a lecture hall. Also, Kapilanda Mandal, an Ashoka fellow is also viewed. Finally, the pdf ends with the breathtaking view of the Library lit up at night.
Before entering India, READ worked for many years in Nepal where it has approximately 50 existing projects. Following the opening of the Oceanic Library, READ has entered several other villages in India located in the States of Rajasthan, Manipur and Haryana, as well as West Bengal. Partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, READ is also now working in the country of Bhutan.
READ’s focus is to promote literacy, inspire economic development, and empower women in the countries in which it operates. Its empowerment of women program has been highly praised and caused READ to be the recipient of special recognition by President Bill Clinton at the 2010 Clinton Global Initiative convocation in New York City.