Sunday October 14, 2012
GBSM donates books and magazines so patients can read while they wait
TOTS TO TEENS
BY DAPHNE LEE
AS I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’ve noticed various interesting reading initiatives started by Malaysians and promoted on Facebook. One of them is Get Caught Reading or Gerakan Baca Sambil Menunggu (GBSM). The woman who started it, Zatika Izati Puade, a fellow Johorean, contacted me recently to tell me all about her project.
Zatika, 36, started GBSM in 2007 when she was pregnant with her second child (she has two boys, aged 10 and five). Now, anyone who has had to wait hours to see their obstetrician will know how useful it is to have a good book to keep you company and while away the time. Zatika always had a book or magazine with her, but noticed that this wasn’t the case with most expectant mums and their husbands.
“They often looked stressed – as anyone would be, having to wait for hours. I wondered if they would be more relaxed if they had something to read. But the only available reading materials at the clinic were medical journals and hospital pamphlets – not very interesting.”
Zatika decided to bring old issues of Malaysian Women’s Weekly and other magazines to the clinic. This was the start of GBSM, although it was only in 2010 that Zatika started the Facebook group.
The aims of GBSM, she says are, “To show that reading is cool and that you always have time to read, no matter where you are, and to provide reading material at waiting rooms in hospitals, clinics and other public places.”
So far, GBSM has donated books and magazines to government and private hospitals and clinics, orphanages and even Kajang Women’s Prison. They have made their presence felt in seven Malaysian states but Zatika wants to go further; her dream is for all Malaysian hospitals and clinics to have their own stash of books and magazine for the use of visitors and patients.
Right now, GBSM’s members are mostly Malay and Zatika thinks this might be because the group posts in Bahasa Melayu on Facebook. “I hope we’ll get more members of all races,” she says, adding that she tries her best to post in BMT (Bahasa Melayu Tinggi) to facilitate the use of Google Translate.
Zatika is, of course, a reader and credits her late father with being the person who started her habit. “He was a primary school teacher and he bought lots of books for me and my eight younger siblings. In our household, books, including encyclopaedias were not just kept away in cabinets. I remember reading these thick hardback classics, like Alice In Wonderland, Black Beauty, Gulliver’s Travels, and The Three Musketeers until they fell apart.”
Zatika also recalls that she lived near the local library (in Muar). “We got books from there, too. And I was a librarian while in secondary school. I think, as an introvert, I preferred to be surrounded by books rather than people.”
Her favourite books when she was growing up were adventure and mystery series like Nancy Drew, the Hardy boys, and those by Enid Blyton and Alfred Hitchcock, as well as classics by Bram Stoker and Robert Louis Stevenson, and Malay novels from Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.
She continues to feed her hunger for the written word, relying on stores offering remaindered titles and warehouse sales to keep costs down. “I normally spend around RM80 to RM120 per month on books and magazines for me and my kids,” says Zatika. This translates to seven to 10 books per month, and after they have been read, the books are “recycled” through GBSM’s activities.
You can learn more about GBSM by visiting its Facebook page at facebook.com/groups/jombaca/ and its blog at getcaughtreadingmalay sia.blogspot.com.
The group’s latest activity is a photo competition to promote the whole idea of reading while you wait, anywhere and any time. Go to the Facebook page for more info. And in the meantime, don’t forget to read while you wait!
> Daphne Lee reads to wonder and wander, be amazed and amused, horrified and heartened and inspired and comforted. She wishes more people will try it too. Send e-mails to the above address and check out her blog at daphne.blogs.com/books.