|ONCE UPON A TIME: Fourteen-year-old Phoebe Coburn reading with visitors at the Magic Yeti library in Khumjung. Her project is building three more libraries in Mustang, Gorkha, and Syangja.|
Phoebe Coburn may be little but she has a big heart. The 14-year-old from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in the United States is leading a library project to bring books to Nepali children.
She and her friend Liesl Clark thought up the Magic Yeti Library that is already running in Khumjung and has more than 1,000 Nepali and English titles. Clark is an Emmy-nominated film director.
After Clark promised to back the project, Phoebe launched a book drive in her hometown and sent out emails for financial assistance. Coburn raised enough money from the Alex Lowe Foundation, Room to Read, and others for nearly 700kg of books, with enough for library renovation and the salary of a fulltime librarian in Khumjung.
Coburn is no stranger to Nepal, she spent two years here as a pre-schooler and grew up with tales of the country from her father, Brot Coburn, author of Nepali Ama and Everest: Mountain Without Mercy. Brot helped his daughter get the books to Nepal and oversaw the building of the library.
The Magic Yeti in Khumjung is just the first of three other libraries that Phoebe is setting up: Tsarang in Mustang, Nubri in Gorkha, and Syangja where Ama in Brot's book was born.
"I lived here and I have strong links to Nepal," explains Phoebe when asked about why she is doing it, "we felt like we should give something back."
Phoebe is herself an avid reader, and places the Harry Potter series and books like Uglies, Twilight, the Diary of Anne Frank and The Lord of the Rings, on her list of favourites. Says Phoebe: "I want to share my passion for reading with my Nepali friends."
Pranaya SJB Rana