One man army who gets driven by the thought that "if you have to develop someone, you have to educate them first", left his sable government job at the age of 25 for the upliftment of education in Arunachal Pradesh. Meet Sathyanarayan Mundayoor, fondly known as Uncle Moosa, dedicated his 32 years of life to promoting education and fostering a culture of reading in the remote areas of the north-eastern state. He mainly worked for the upliftment of children from backward castes in remote tribal areas. Recently, he has been conferred with the fourth highest civilian honour, the Padma Shri Award, for playing a ‘seminal role’ in spreading education in Arunachal Pradesh.
His journey from Mumbai to the remote area of Arunachal Pradesh started very long ago in 1979. At that time, taking a tough decision, Mundayoor quit his government job as a Revenue Officer to foray into a life that’s not just about money. He then shifted to Lohit in Arunachal Pradesh, and seeing an ad, he applied for a position with the Vivekananda Kendra Vidyalaya school movement. He worked as an education officer for Vivekananda Kendra Vidyalaya till 1996. During that time, he began his mission to influence young people with his ideas.
After several years, when he got fed up with the unimaginative teaching methods, he then decided to branch out from the confines of formal education. He figured out that the way to promote education was to allow them to feel the joy of learning. In a bid to stimulate the reading, habits of children and allow them to discover the power of imagination, Uncle Moosa started organising book exhibitions in remote areas. In the beginning, to start the reading revolution, he used to carry books in trunks using tattered state transport buses to reach the remote areas where tribal families live. In one interview, he said, "When the readers don’t come to the books, the books must go to the readers."
Mundayoor then launched the ‘de-institutionalised library movement’ and started establishing standalone libraries that are not part of any institution to provide reading material beyond the school curriculum. In 2007, in collaboration with the Association of Writers and Illustrators for Children (AWIC) and the Vivekananda Trust, Uncle Moosa set up the first community library for children as part of the Lohit Youth Library Movement in the government town of Tezu. This library was named the Bamboosa Library.
Over the years, Uncle Moosa has managed to establish 13 bamboosa libraries in remote areas like Wakro, Chongkham, Lathaw, and Anjaw. As each one grew, it was handed over to local non-profits or volunteers to run. These libraries are vast and boast more than 10,000 books ranging from the works of Roald Dahl and Ruskin Bond to Amar Chitra Katha. Now, these libraries turn into a hub of activities that include story-telling, quizzes, booking readings, and enactments.
Uncle Moosa has also written a children’s book in Malayalam on the folk heritage of Arunachal Pradesh. He also started a home library movement entrusting books to volunteers who in turn distribute books to children.
The library movement has created a great impact for transforming the new generation in the remotest areas of Arunachal Pradesh. It is not only limited to the reading habit of the youths but created a good number of volunteers for spreading the light of changes on many social and community habits.