Today was a historic day here at the mission. After more than a year of planning, design, fundraising, construction, decorating and cleaning…the Samartha Saxena Memorial Learning Resource Center was officially opened today.

Under a blazing Indian sun, with hundreds of parents and students in attendance, with honored guests and longtime friends in town for the occasion, the ceremonial ribbon was cut, the doors were opened, and our beautiful new space was officially open for business.

There were songs and dances, speeches and prayers, and a celebration worthy of the effort that brought this project to fruition. For those of you who missed it, here are a few pictures from the day along with a speech made by our very own Kelly Bahadur, ex-head girl at the Maxton Stong School. Great job, Kelly!

Excerpts from Kelly’s Speech

“Today we are here to celebrate the opening of the Samartha Saxena Memorial Learning Resource Center, to thank those that made it possible, and to throw the doors open wide for the current students of the Maxton Strong School. Yet while we marvel at the beautiful new building and look back on the challenging road that brought it to life, I would like to look forward to the future and all the potential that this day and this new space represents.

Personally, I’ve always loved books. In fact, it was my great honor to write an article for National Geographic recently entitled “Sanctuary of Paper” which was my tribute to the small library we have at the Good Shepherd Agricultural Mission. As I have grown up, that small growing collection of books, many of which now reside here on our new library shelves, were my constant companions. If I was scared or lonely, bored or confused, I always could escape into a good story.

It’s like the great writer E.B. White, author of Charlotte’s Web, once wrote. He said, “A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your questions answered. Books are good company in sad times and happy times, because books are people. People who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book.”

Kelly continued…” And that’s the real power that this new building represents. It’s so much more than a collection of books. As Carl Sagan, the great author and astronomer once wrote, ‘Books permit us to voyage through time, to tap the wisdom of our ancestors, to connect us to the greatest minds that ever were and inspire us to make our own contribution.’

This inspiration will be the real legacy of this building we dedicate here today. Not only are the students of the Maxton Strong School excited to use this new facility, but who knows what ideas, what dreams, what inspiration will be found within these walls. And not just with the current students, but with generations and generations of students to come. In this way, libraries represent so much more than a place to read. They are a place to grow.”

Kelly’s speech continued… “With great respect and deep appreciation, I would like to thank the team from eMi for designing this building for us, and helping to bring our vision for a large expansive campus that much closer to reality.

I’d also like to thank everyone at CenturyLink for your belief in us and your generous support of this project. We would not be celebrating today without all of you.

Most importantly, I would like to pay tribute to Alka and Manjul Saxena by paying tribute to your son Sam. Though you lost Sam far too young an age, his legacy will be felt for as long as these walls stand. For all that you have done for us in Sam’s name, we are humbly grateful and deeply honored to be a part of the living legacy that Sam continues to encourage.”

…   “as final message, I’d like to read you the plaque that adorns this building. Sam’s face and this message will greet children far into the future whenever they come to this library, to think, to learn and to dream.

It reads: A library is about more than books. It is a celebration of all that is possible in this life. To learn, to grow, to experience the wonders of our world and explore the richness of human achievement. That is what we hope you will find here. Because this space is more than a library. It is a loving tribute to a boy named Sam Saxena who left us too soon to adorn another world.  For everyone then who enters through this door, we hope it helps you unlock your own potential, creating as it does a living legacy that will grow and expand, far into the future. We think Sam would like that.”

Kelly Bahadur
19 October, 2018

There will surely be more stories ahead for us, more plans to complete, more milestones to celebrate, but for now our hearts are full. So many people made this library possible, including our kids many of whom worked tirelessly to get the books on the shelves and the dust off the floors. We want to make special mention to Manjul and Alka Saxena from the Samartha Saxena Foundation and the amazing people at CenturyLink Technologies India without whom none of this would be possible. Above all, we’d like to thank God, for once again blessing an ambitious project we have undertaken. We are humbled and grateful beyond measure the way the right people and the right partnerships have come into our lives at just the right time. What more can we say but: Thank you!