The Oceanic Library was the first project developed in India by Rural Education and Development (READ) Global and READ India, working in concert with the Village of Ullon, West Bengal, India. The Oceanic Library lies on the Bay of Bengal near the mouth of the sacred Ganges River. Its name is derived from its principal funding source, “The Oceanic Protective Settlement,” of which former California Senator Omer Rains is Settlor. Mr. Rains has also served as Chairman of the Board of READ Global.

You will find here four attached PDF documents. These attachments speak to the commitment by READ to the more disadvantaged and impoverished of the people of India—a country that both feeds the soul and tears at the heart at the same time.

Why READ Selected Ullon Gram

This first document provides information in both narrative and pictorial form that explains in part why READ selected Ullon Gram south of Calcutta, now known as Kolkata, to build the first of what will eventually be numerous projects in what is still an impoverished country of over one billion people. Ullon Gram (Gram means village in Bengali) is in the Sunderban region of India, one of the last true sanctuaries of the Bengal Tiger.

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The Groundbreaking Ceremony

This document provides a complete pictorial overview of the groundbreaking/foundation stone laying ceremony. The schools that you will see near the end of the second PDF were, for the most part, built by the British in the 1860’s—approximately 150 years ago. There are very few books and those that do exist are kept locked in old and dusty cabinets. Many of the children seen (usually those clothed in green) are orphans who have been given a home by VSSU, a wonderful organization that is helping villages in all parts of West Bengal in more ways than can here be enumerated. READ is very blessed to be working in Ullon with its inspirational leader, a man named Kapilanda Mondal who truly walks in the shoes of Gandhi, and other friends READ has made in and around Ullon Gram.

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The Inauguration of the Oceanic Library

This document highlights the inauguration of the Oceanic Library. As Mr. Rains was recovering from a detached retina operation and could not fly, his daughter Jessica represented him in Ullon where she delivered inaugural remarks and cut the tape officially opening the Library. She is found in various photographs in the blue dress.

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Completion!

The fourth pdf file shows the Oceanic Library as it nears virtual completion at the end of 2011. The exterior of the building has been masterfully completed with the addition of yet another floor and the interior is 95% completed with finishing touches in progress. The floors are beautifully tiled and there are several sustainability projects within the large structure: One is a state of the art honey processing facility in a walled off room at one end of the building and another is a solar installation unit in the other end. In addition, the government has approved a college offering a B. Ed. Degree, to be opened in January, 2012. This will be but the start of Ullon as an education center and will be part of the first planned conversion of an impoverished village into a modern planned community in all of India (perhaps anywhere in the lesser developed world). Note also the building lit up at night, the result of the government bringing electricity to the Library, making it the first such building in this part of India (solar powered fans and back-up generators are also in every room in the event of a black out).
With excess funds from the Library’s sustainability projects, a cultural center is also underway and 25 air conditioned cottages are under construction directly across from the Library. Of equal if not greater significance, a new orphanage has also been completed. With greatly enhanced Library sections being sustained by the supporting business projects, jobs are being created, and adults (primarily women) are flooding the Library along with their children. The nearby schools have asked for and happily been given permission to use the Library, and the children come there as soon as school is out. In addition to the interior of the Library, playgrounds with instructors present have been created on the Library grounds. The village, headed by the vision of VSSU under the leadership of Kapilanda Mondal has launched a 5 year village transformational plan, the center piece being the Oceanic Library. Much of the world is watching.

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International Brotherhood Conference

Amazingly enough, the small village of Ullon was selected to host the most recent International Brotherhood Conference (IBC). This, no doubt, is in large measure the result of the magnificent work being done by Vivekananda Sevakendra-O-Sishu Uddyan (VSSU) under the leadership of Kapilanda Mondal. Utilizing the Oceanic Library and its related facilities, representatives of close to 50 countries, over a 10-day period, committed to participate in studies and discussions revolving around the Millennial Development Goals established by the United Nations.
The Millennial Goals include, among others, the world-wide eradication of poverty, the empowerment of women, the creation of jobs and economic opportunities, the promotion of literacy and education, the provision of health services, the fostering of human rights, the importance of environmental sustainability, the preservation of local cultures, and so on. Omer Rains of the United States gave both the Inaugural and the Keynote addresses, and participated in the multitude of panel discussions that took place each day of the conference.
The fact that the honor of hosting the conference was bestowed on Ullon was of particular significance given that Ullon has historically been a rather small and historically impoverished village south of Kolkata (Calcutta) in the Sunderban area of India. This evidences the extent to which Ullon and the transformation occurring there has captured worldwide attention.
The visible effects of change and observations witnessed by attendees at the IBC Conference are now inspiring other projects in and around Ullon. One of these is an Aquaponics and Spirulina Eco-Park (ASEP) that has now been established under the leadership of Dr. Subhrankar Mukharjee. The ASEP project is designed to demonstrate sustainable food supplies and in a healthy and nutritional way. It is the first project of its kind anywhere in India. Note the photographs of the ASEP amongst the other photographs in the accompanying pdf.
In short, the pdf that accompanies this narrative demonstrates in pictorial form significant events that occurred during the IBC, and provides further evidence of the eclectic and modern transformation taking place in and around the Oceanic Library in Ullon, West Bengal, India.

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Further Information About READ Global

Before entering India, READ worked for many years in Nepal where it has approximately 50 existing projects. Following the opening of the Oceanic Library, READ has entered several other villages in India located in the States of Rajasthan, Manipur and Haryana, as well as West Bengal. Partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, READ is also now working in the country of Bhutan.

READ’s focus is to promote literacy, inspire economic development, and empower women in the countries in which it operates. Its empowerment of women program has been highly praised and caused READ to be the recipient of special recognition by President Bill Clinton at the 2010 Clinton Global Initiative convocation in New York City.

Further information about the READ programs can be found at www.senorains.com.

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