(Left) Villagers travelling on foot at Zangkham in Mon district, bordering Arunachal Pradesh (Right) Shemphoa Bohham.
Vishü Rita Krocha
Kohima | January 30
Growing up in the far-flung village of Zangkham in Mon district (bordering Arunachal Pradesh), 26-year old Shemphoa Bohham recalls having absolutely no access to reading quality books. This is precisely the reason why he conceptualized the idea of setting up a library at Tizit, so children from around the area can develop the culture of reading books, which, he impresses upon is very important for the overall development of a person.
“Forget about books, I grew up in an environment with no electricity, water supply or good roads,” he states while pointing out disappointedly that, “we still don’t have these facilities.”
His village, he enlightens “got electricity connection in 1981 but was disconnected between 1994-1995 and ever since, we have survived without it, relying on solar energy, which everybody cannot afford.” He goes on to say that, “we travel 30-40 kilometers on foot to buy anything from Tizit which is the nearest town. We carry the sick and the injured in the same route and manner as there is no health centre.”
But he still considers himself to be more privileged than most while expressing that his parents gave him the best education by sending him to one private school after the other. Even then, he confesses, “I remember how I used to study by memorizing everything and not understanding anything. So, I struggled a bit in college because initially I couldn’t understand many terms and phrases that my lecturers and friends use.”
“Crime and detective was one magazine I used to read when I was as small as a Class 3 student”, he recalls. This was when he was studying in Namsa and had little access to reading. “It was really interesting to read as all the stories were full of suspense and written in simple English but on the contrary, created a lot of impact in my life- the choices I made and my way of life. So this is also one reason why I want to do away with bad books and provide good books for students to read,” he relates.
“Students are so blank as we get no access to newspapers and monthly magazines. Competitive exams are also a far cry because there are no materials to read,” he impresses upon. The Library, which is in the process of being fully functional, has been set up at Holy Trinity School, Tizit, in a room which has been provided by the school. The library will be home to about 700 books (both old and new) mostly contributed by lecturers of ICFAI University (where he last studied and earned a master’s degree in Political Science), classmates, friends and well-wishers. Out of these, Shemphoa Bohham bought about 300 books for the library and is hopeful that the access to these books will enable children in the area to grow up reading books that will be instrumental in shaping their lives.
Currently serving as a Primary Teacher in his village, Shemphoa Bohham strongly feels that the library- and the availability of books- will evoke the love of reading among the children in the area. “It will be open to anybody who wants to read,” he also informs and further stresses that the initiative is for zero profit.