The gift of reading

The Revolving Library aims to introduce underprivileged children to the wonderful world of books.

THEY call themselves the Revolvers. On weekends – and sometimes weekdays, too – these volunteers visit orphanages and children’s homes to deliver books and set up reading corners and make-shift libraries. They also conduct reading activities for the children. Every few months, the books are collected from the homes and replaced with a fresh batch so that the children get to read new books. The books move from home to home, hence the name of the unique project: The Revolving Library.

The Revolving Library (TRL) is the brainchild of Vannitha Balasingam, a former sub-editor who has taken time off to focus on her other passion – playing Scrabble. She has competed in national and international tournaments over the years, and is currently training for the 2013 World Scrabble Championship.

“It all started when I wanted to get rid of some of my stuff,” says Vannitha, with a laugh. “I am a real pack rat and find it extremely hard to get rid of my things. But I was moving and had no choice. I started a second-hand souk on Facebook and decided to donate 10% of my sales to charity. I quickly realised that 10% from sales of second-hand items wasn’t going to add up to much, and decided to use the money for books which I could donate to children’s homes,” Vannitha, 40, explains. Her simple idea quickly grew into something larger.

“Pretty soon, friends started asking me if I could sell their second-hand items on my online souk. I agreed on condition that they give me 10% of their sales for my project. Before I knew it, I had enough to buy a small collection of books – enough to get things going,” she shares. As she was sorting out her books and planning her first “drop off,” Vannitha had another lightbulb moment.

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The gift of reading


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