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.
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.
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.
International Brotherhood Conference
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.
10th Anniversary of the Oceanic Library
In 2017, a celebration was held to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the inauguration of the Oceanic Library. By that time, an accredited school of higher education name Nivedita College was also housed in the Oceanic Library. Nivedita was the name given to a woman from Ireland who had become a devotee of Swami Vivekananda in the late 1800’s and who thereafter had followed him to India to emerge in humanitarian work in and around Calcutta until her death in 1911.
In 2020, VSSU also undertook the task of starting two additional colleges: One a Polytechnic College, and the other a School of Pharmacy. Once these two additional colleges become fully operational, the anticipation is that a new Museum & Cultural Center will be constructed within or close to the Oceanic Library Building. In addition, an ocean-going vessel will be acquired and named the Ullon Oceanic Library Bookmobile to take books and other educational supplies to the hundreds of thousands of people who live on islands in the Bay of Bengal who otherwise are completely lacking educational materials.
In 2020, the Cyclonic Storm, Amphan, ripped through the Bay of Bengal causing a great deal of damage to Ullon and everything else in its path. However, the remarkable people of Ullon immediately went to work restoring the community as soon as the storm had passed.
Today, the United Nations continues to regard Ullon as the village that has undergone the greatest transformation of any village in the lesser developed world. Its future remains bright and it continues to be an inspiration to other villages in Asia, Africa & Latin America.