The village of Deora, India, has about 3,500 people. Child marriage is common there, and many kids don't attend school. Some families refuse to educate daughters, and other children work in the fields. But it happens to be the village where Sadiya Riyaz Shaikh was born. Now 18 years old, she's become educated and won public speaking competitions. When she returned to her birthplace to wait out the pandemic, she decided to open up new worlds for young readers.
As reported in The Christian Science Monitor, she convinced family elders to give her a dilapidated guesthouse. She used prize earnings from public speaking events to convert the building into a library with hundreds of donated books, and a tutor. Some neighbors were critical that a woman should be a leader, but Ms. Shaikh says, "If I continue to listen to others, I'll never be able to achieve anything." She now hopes to start children's libraraies in other states of India.
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