Accelerating Child Literacy with New Libraries
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Accelerating Child Literacy with New Libraries

Helman Sitohang, CEO Asia Pacific, was presented with the Friends of Global Literacy Award by John Wood, founder of the non-profit organization Room to Read at its annual gala event in Singapore. 

Room to Read, an NGO focused on children's literacy and girls' education, firmly believes that "world change starts with educated children". Recently, the charity recognized Helman Sitohang, CEO Asia Pacific, for his leadership in the launch of Room to Read's programs in Indonesia, through its technical assistance model called Room to Read Accelerator. Room to Read Accelerator trains local partners in its effective programmatic model and builds their capacity to deliver these programs effectively.

24 New Libraries Thanks to Room to Read Accelerator

In 2014, Helman took the lead in convening a consortium of foundations, corporations and individuals to support and kick-start Room to Read Accelerator – a two-year project aimed at setting up school libraries and publishing children's books in the local language. The initiative was undertaken in cooperation with five local NGOs and two private sector publishers. As a result, 24 libraries have been established across 3 districts and 15 book titles published.

"It started with a casual discussion"

During the gala event, Helman said to the 300 guests in the audience: "I am very proud to receive this award and do so on behalf of the investors who were passionate in their belief that Room to Read could make a difference in Indonesia. This idea first emerged at a dinner in Hong Kong some years ago. What started as a suggestion, quickly led to a series of meetings with potential investors, then to discussions about an ‘accelerator model.' Looking back, it seems remarkable to have been a small part of a team that started with a casual discussion and yet has had an impact on the lives of so many children across the world, including some of those in refugee camps."

"Credit Suisse has a long history of supporting entrepreneurs to realize their dreams. This story is another example of the impact a few determined people can have. The entrepreneurial spirit shown by John and the team is why Credit Suisse is so proud to work with Room to Read," Helman added.

Accelerating Further

John Wood, Room to Read founder, commented: "I am thrilled to present this award to Helman in recognition of the outstanding support he has given to Room to Read, and his pivotal role in launching Room to Read's first Accelerator projects in Indonesia. I would like to honor both Helman and his wife Ria as true friends of global literacy who have contributed to helping hundreds of thousands of eager young learners become life-long readers."

Since the launch of the Room to Read Accelerator project in Indonesia, the organization has initiated Accelerator in: Grenada, India, Jordan, Nepal, Tanzania, and Rwanda. The original Indonesia project has entered a second phase (supported by the IKEA Foundation and IKEA's Let's Play for Change campaign) that will see 145 libraries established and at least 60 book titles published in Bahasa Indonesia for beginner readers.