This project initially started when one of our team members, Lin (Rusaslina) Idrus, went on a research trip to a village in Sabah. As a social scientist, she often travel to rural villages for her research work and she always firmly believed for the need to ‘give back’ to the local communities. She was looking for a way to thank the local community in Sabah that hosted her and she asked the villagers what were some of the needs in the community. The community at the time was just setting up a community learning center and did not have any reading materials. Thus, Lin and a fellow researcher, pulled resources and bought a set of books as a starter kit for the learning center. Later, Lin went on to send more books to other villagers that she had spent time in while doing research work and found this to be a satisfying way to thank the wonderful people who helped her in her work.
Knowing that there is always a need for reading materials in the rural and under-served villagers in Malaysia, and inspired by the enthusiasm of the children who received these books, Lin decided she should try to get more people involved in this project. An indigenous leader and education expert who has worked for many years helping communities establish pre-schools in Sabah told her: developing a reading culture encourages independent learning and thus empower communities. Lin felt motivated by this and she started talking to more people about this project and found enthusiastic response from the young Malaysians she met through the Singapore Malaysia Forum community. The rest is history, as they say, and the Kawan-Kawan (Friends of) Mari Kita Membaca was formed and represent the core group that is leading the fundraising and planning work for Mari Kita Membaca.
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