Introducing our new Vision for 2020
Today we launched our Vision 2020: Where books change lives strategy for 2017-20. This ambitious new vision will see us expanding our work to reach the people and communities who face the greatest barriers to accessing books. In this blog, our Chief Executive Alison Tweed reflects on what this new vision means for our future.
Today is a very exciting day for Book Aid International as it marks the launch of our vision for 2020. It is a step I am particularly proud to take, as a major focus will be on ensuring that the books we provide reach the most marginalised and vulnerable people around the world.
For many years our work has been exclusively in Africa and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. This shift recognises that the world is facing new challenges and there are a growing number of places where books are in very short supply, yet are much-needed for their potential to enrich, improve and change lives.
We know from the many, many requests we receive that there is a huge need for books in a whole range of very challenging situations, some beyond the current scope of our work. Late last year, for example, one of the refugee transit camps in Chios, Greece, asked us to donate books for their small library. We sent a consignment of children’s books and we have since had this report back:
“When we first started the library, it would only take half an hour for the children to start to lose concentration, misbehaving, even fighting. Many had never been to school, or if they had, it was several years ago and they’d been through some terrible things in between. After just three weeks, they would not only stay on at the library for hours reading without getting distracted, they also started helping each other, translating for the younger kids or pointing things out in the pictures. Reading became a space for them, away from the stress of the camps, where they could be excited in productive and enriching ways, not traumatic ones.” (Read more from Chios).
As we look ahead to the next four years we are committed to supporting those who face the greatest barriers to reading, whether they live in conflict areas, are struggling to learn in schools without books, have been excluded by poverty, disability or discrimination or, as in Chios, have left their homes and are seeking to build a better life.
At the same time, we also know that we already have many partners and beneficiaries who continue to need the books we provide and that much of our current work already reaches many of the world’s most vulnerable communities. The books we have provided to Sierra Leone’s Ebola-affected communities, for example, are helping children catch up on their learning as they return to school.
As we realise our new vision, we will also continue to support the great work being done by national library services, by NGOs and by community and volunteer groups because we continue to believe, as we always have, that everyone, whatever their circumstances should be able to access books and read for pleasure, study and life-long learning.
We also remain committed to our on-going projects and programmes. We will continue to create vibrant new Children’s Corners in libraries, support primary schools with our award-winning Inspiring Readers programme and run innovative library development projects in response to the growing demand for books in digital formats.
Delivering this ambitious strategy will be a challenge and we will need more books, funds and support of every kind. We know that there are many people around the world who believe, as we do, that everyone should have the opportunity to read. We hope that they – you! – will join us as we realise our vision and take the next step towards a world where everyone has the books they need to enrich, improve and change their lives.
You can read our full strategy document and find out more about our plans over the next three years on our vision 2020 webpage.
We would like to thank all of our supporters in the book trade, our many individual donors and our partners across Africa for their continued support, and we look forward to making our contribution to a book-rich world.