Bookworm – Chimbel

Posted by Helen 
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Looking back in our Blog, you’ll have seen that we are currently concentrating our Bookworm efforts on their MOP programmes and so I was raring to go see one of their primary sites around Panjim in an area called Chimbel.

It was the first time I had seen their new HQ in the heart of Chimbel, which is an interesting but challenging area which most Goans don’t know much about and even fewer have been to visit. It is made up of seventeen or so ‘gullies’ divided cleanly into Muslim, Hindu and Christian ‘lines’, each not much wider than the reach of your outstretched arms.

Chimbel gully

The vibrantly-decorated Bookworm library and teaching space is in the heart of the Muslim gullies, and is big enough to hold about 25 people, but somehow everyone moves and squeezes up and quite a few more children fit themselves in.

Chimbel librry space

Bookworm’s space is actually the ground floor of a standard Chimbel house, so I find it hard to imagine how hot and sticky they must be pre-monsoon. As I walked there in the narrow gullies, I shared the limited space near the mosque with goats and cows, surrounded by the fluttering flags celebrating the Shia festival of Milad un Nabi – the Prophets Birthday (the Sunnis had celebrated it five days earlier). The ladies are washing clothes on the steps and gutting the fish – I step in something, and a gentleman washing down the street rushes to clean my shoes. All life is here for the living, cheek by jowl.

Chimbel decorated for Milad un Nabi

I then complete my stroll by walking past the Hindu temple and then the Christian meeting house in this diverse but tiny area.It has been a privilege to wander about here – perhaps not the prettiest area, but very real and very well organised by its inhabitants.


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