MCL takes a look at the journey of Bakul over the years while also bringing you interesting details about their anniversary party celebrations
For Biswajit Dash, a wedding planner and a proud owner of an event management company, Bakul Foundation at Bhubaneswar is like a second home. “If there is some place where I got wings to fly, it has to be Bakul. It is because of the Bakul family that I could make the transition from being an engineer to an entrepreneur.”
Not only Biswajit, even Pooja Mishra, who had moved into Bhubaneswar leaving her life abroad and had been trying for quite some time to accommodate in the city, found a home away from home at Bakul. After having worked as a volunteer with Bakul for three years, she now manages the work of volunteers at the foundation.
Besides being a unique place where creativity takes form, Bakul is a treasure house of many such beautiful stories of its members and volunteers. Mahua Moharana, a retired insurance sector professional and now a full time story teller and part time social media manager at Bakul too shares her wonderful experience at the foundation. She says she feels younger than her age when she is at Bakul, trying out and working on things which she has never done before.
These and many more stories were shared by members of Bakul, the city based organisation, on the occasion of its 10th anniversary celebrations held on 1st April 2017. Just like a seed germinates and grows into a huge tree, Bakul has over time grown beautifully from being a unique idea to an organisation whose volunteers have branched across the country and outside.
“When we initiated the movement for Bakul, we had little idea of what shape it will take and how far it will reach. However, we had this sheer urge to demonstrate something which in general was not thought of earlier. Living with the cynicism of NGOs and institutional funding, we tried to mobilise people first who could join in and walk along with us in the process,” said Sujit Mohapatra, founder of Bakul Foundation.
Mohapatra mentions, “Bakul saw its inception from being an online campaign to growing into a library, with 23 physical libraries set up in various parts of the state over the years. Bakul has been instrumental in promoting mobile libraries. The city libraries are located at Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Paralakhemundi while the three village libraries are at Godibari inside Chandaka, Biswanathpur and Jaanla. In addition to this, one community library at Chandrasekharpur, two libraries at two of the orphanages in Bhubaneswar, and 14 libraries in different schools of the state are a part of the rigorous library movement that Bakul has been focusing on.”
The 10th anniversary party witnessed the presence of many of Bakul’s founding members and volunteers from all over the world.
Ace stand-up comedian Hriday Ranjan, who is known for his blogs, hosted the entire anniversary party for two days. He also ensured that people were laughing through the entire evenings with his witty and sharp jokes. He confessed that it was Bakul which made him fall in love with writing and now he is going to take it up as his career.
Bobby Patnaik, one of the founding members of the organisation expressed how overwhelmed she was to see Bakul having taken up the shape it is in now. “From being a children’s library to a massive library movement and creating a legacy of volunteers across the state, Bakul has been able to make an identity for itself,” added Patnaik.
The 10th anniversary also marked a series of events with the theme of ‘10 Days to 10 Years’. The Public Arts in Gopalpur (PAGO) festival which was curated by Bakul Foundation was also a part of this celebration. Two libraries were set up during these 10 days; one serving the villagers near Jaanla and one community library at Chandrasekharpur. The Bakul library, known for its art works, also got repainted. With big ceramic murals to colourful wall murals, Bakul got a makeover done by artist Birendra Pani and Pratap Jena with the support of other volunteers.
‘Street Art and Murals Project” (STAMP) was also flagged off on this occasion to give a new look to the city of Bhubaneswar with different murals and street art. One of the major highlights of the anniversary celebration was a small theatre workshop ‘Roots bloody Roots” which was followed by live performances. The workshop was actually conceptualised by Italian volunteer Sarah Manjo, who had flown to India to be a part of Bakul’s anniversary celebration.
To raise further funds to set up new libraries, Bakul also organised a fund raising dinner called ‘Cooks From Around The World’ serving Italian, Spanish, German, Denmark, French, Lebanese and Indian cuisine prepared by volunteers from different countries.
Going strong at 10, Bakul as an entity has inspired the lives of many. From being featured at Ted Talks to management classes, this small organisation has been an example of how individual contributions can lead to change. As Bakul keeps growing, so are its branches.