Although Sri Lanka has one of the highest youth literacy rate in South Asia, there are still many villages all across the country with no libraries and no access to books. To address this problem, social worker Mahinda Dasanayaka created the Book and Me project in 2017. Starting with a few dozen books donated by family members and co-workers, he began taking his traveling library by motorcycle to rural villages and distributing books to young people for free.
After some publicity from radio stations, Dasanayaka now has a lending library of more than 3,00 books and he visits at least twenty villages in the Kegalle region each month. Dasanayaka wanted a way to bring people together, especially the two main ethnic groups in Sri Lanka after their civil war which ended in 2009. He says, “Books can be used for the betterment of society and promote ethnic reconciliation—because no one can get angry with books.”
Books and Me is now starting to build little free library outposts in some of the most isolated villages so that the children will have access to reading material all of the time.