PLAINSBORO: Twins’ foundation aims to spread literacy across the world

By Siddharth Muchhal, Special Writer
Seema and Suraj Korumilli started the Literacy Movement 4 More non-profit organization to promote literacy around the world.
Founded by the Korumilli twins — who are now rising juniors at West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South — during the summer of 2013, the non-profit’s goal is to “provide access to books to people who needed them,” according to its’ website. It attempts to reach this goal mainly by constructing libraries and providing both books and technological resources.
Since 2013, the siblings have been working internationally to reach their organization’s goal. Their first stop was a village in South India, Kapileshwarapuram.
“For two years, we reached out to the orphanage in the village, providing over 500 books in their library, and two laptops with hundreds of virtual books,” Suraj said.
In fact, the twins use their library to help children in the village translate between their native language and English.
“The laptops provide the mass of books in their native language, Telegu, while the physical books are all in English. The library is supplemented with 15 Telegu-English dictionaries to help bridge any gaps in language, and promote an active learning mindset,” Seema said.Along with literature and technology, the library holds a reading room for village for both its namesake and other village activities.
“The reading room where the library is located encourages activity between all people, young and old. College students have found the library especially helpful with it’s university-level textbooks and advanced English novels, while younger children strengthen their language skills every day through picture books and beginner-level chapter books,” Seema said.The benefit of the library went beyond what the twins imagined.
“The beauty of a library is that it offers possibilities in every area of interest, therefore benefiting anyone and everyone. Even villagers with limited English skills go to the reading room to enjoy picture books, and some make the effort to improve their English with the help of others. All in all, the library has offered opportunities to the village that can help the whole community develop and improve their literacy skills,” Seema said.
Although the twins completed a successful first project, there was an obstacle to overcome. Funds for the organization had to be raised so that they could continue to work towards their goal. So Seema and Suraj began fundraising, including a fundraiser at the Plainsboro Redberry Frozen Yogurt shop on June 15.
“The Redberry fundraiser was our organization’s first major fundraiser from a local company. It was an amazing experience, and gave us a lot of insight on how to run future fundraisers. The people in Redberry were extremely understanding and nice, and we really appreciate how much they supported us,” Suraj said.
Along with money, the twins were also able to increase awareness of their cause through the fundraiser. “We were able to get a lot of recognition from locals through the fundraiser, especially young people who were interested in what we were doing. Our goal was not only to collect money, but also to spread more awareness of the organization, and we believe it was more than successful in both aspects,” Suraj said.
Through the Redberry fundraiser as well as others, the twins have raised over $2,000, and are hoping to raise $1,000 more by the end of the year.
This July, the Korumillis began their next project in the Bahamas. In the islands, the twins visited the Bilney Lane Children’s Home and the local children’s hostel to bring 21 children school supplies and books. “In three suitcases, we brought various school supplies, books, containers for the books, and toys for the children to enjoy,” Seema said.
“We were able to bring 100-plus books, ranging in everything from children’s books to chapter books, and paperbacks to pop-up books. Since the children’s home did not have it’s own resources to shelve or organize books, we provided bins for an easy set-up. The library, while small now, has time to grow and expand, as we plan to visit again in the next year,” she said.
The Korumillis believe that everything Literacy Movement 4 More has accomplished can be attributed to the continuous help of the Plainsboro Public Library.
“We cannot stress enough that without the Plainsboro Library, our entire organization could not have started. Without the library, we could not have received the vast collections of literature offered to us, and we have thrived as a result of them continuing to donate. The Plainsboro Library also guided us a lot when we first started out, and they even lent us the community room for a presentation,” Suraj said.
Even though Seema and Suraj provide as much attention as possible to their non-profit, they must balance their philanthropic actions with schoolwork.
“While half of our effort goes toward school, the other half goes toward upholding the organization. Of course, this kind of balance requires a lot of effort, especially when both commitments require so much hard work. However, we believe that to make anything work and succeed, one must have passion, so we put tremendous amounts of passion in everything that we do in order to make them work,” Seema said.
The organization consists of only two members, but their efforts are augmented by the generosity of the public, especially students.“We also collect school supplies to give to younger people who still attend school, and cannot acquire them easily. We collect backpacks, notebooks, and every school supply you can imagine. We want to give these kids as many opportunities as possible, and if a lunch box will help them with learning at school, then we’ll try and get it for them,” Suraj said.After their most recent trip, the twins are now looking to augment their organization’s goals. “While our goals for the future include expansion into other areas of need, we also hope to redefine how we encourage literacy for all. Our aspiration is to start a tutoring program that targets reading and writing, to help improve the skills of those who need them. Through the Literacy Movement 4 More, we hope to reach those in other countries, but also those at home who need it the most,” Seema said.For more information on Literacy Movement 4 More, visit www.literacymovement4more.org. 