Beginning of the Touch Read Project
Since my childhood I had the compassion for the visually handicapped people. The first visually handicapped person I saw was my music teacher. A boy used to bring him to the music school by holding his guiding stick. Then inside the school students used to help him for everything. He was so dependent.
I was only 11 years old then. When I told my mother about it, she told me that we have 5 knowledge collection senses (eyes to see, ears to hear, skin to feel, tongue to taste and speak and nose to smell). If even one of them does not work we are lost. Although all these 5 senses are important for a good living, still among them eyes, ears and tongue are the most important ones. Think of any one of them missing from your daily life, suppose you cannot see (blind), you cannot hear (deaf), or you cannot speak (dumb). It would be so frustrating.
After that I had to deal with a deaf and dumb person who worked in my library as my assistant in Nigeria. Although he knew Sign language to communicate but since I did not know it so we could not communicate. Fortunately he was educated and could read and write, so we could communicate by writing. I worked with him for about 10 years. I was always sympathetic to him. I was very much touched with these two people.
For a long time I wished if I could serve visually handicapped people in a meaningful way. I have always been for education. When I explored about the education of these people, I found that there were several schools around, there were libraries too for them etc etc. But I wanted to help them in my own small way.
While working as a librarian in Nigeria and Ethiopia, I cam across their folktales. On searching these folktales in published form I could find only a couple of sources, and those were also not physically available there. So I started collecting them from unpublished sources - local magazines, oral sources, theses etc etc.
While doing this, I thought if this material is not available even to their local population, how it could be available to others outside? The idea struck, a spark rose and produced the fire. From wherever I got I started collecting these folktales of these countries of Africa. This material is certainly very difficult to get even to educated people in other countries, let alone our common Hindi speaking people in India and abroad. So I started translating them in Hindi. Now I have more than 300 folktales from various countries.
Now the question is how to make them available to their readers?
Continued on Folktales of Various Countries-2