Welcoming People’s Postcode Lottery in Zanzibar

6th September 2017 | Blog

To date, players of People’s Postcode Lottery have provided an amazing £900,000 to help more people access books that will enrich, improve and change their lives. Players’ contributions to our charity are simply amazing, so earlier this year we were delighted to host People’s Postcode Lottery Managing Director Jo Bucci, Customer Experience Operations Manager Louise Donkin and Network Solutions Architect Amjad Ali Shaikh to visit one of the schools that players help us support on the island of Unguja in Zanzibar. 

In this blog, our Head of Fundraising Hannah Watson reflects on the visit and why the support of players is so important to our work in Zanzibar and across Africa.

Zanzibar is a Tanzanian archipelago off the coast of East Africa. Our charity has worked in Tanzania since 1960 and every year we distribute thousands of books to libraries and schools as well as running projects which invest in library and school services.

There is a great demand for books across Zanzibar, but libraries and schools have very little budget for purchasing books, so classrooms rarely have anything more than a few textbooks issued by the government. Zanzibar’s children are taught in the national language of Swahili until Year Four, after which they are taught in English, so there is a particular demand for English books to help children make this transition. Thanks to the support of players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we are able to provide many of these books into the schools that need them most and we took Jo, Louise and Amjad to one of those schools.

Our visit started with an early morning trip to Regeza Mwenda Primary School, where more than 2,000 pupils have lessons during the morning before giving over the whole school building to the afternoon shift of secondary school students. This shift system isn’t unusual on Zanzibar, where a growing population and squeezed government resources results in overcrowding in many schools, but Jo, Louise and Amjad were still surprised to see that some classes had to be held out of doors because there wasn’t enough room in the small classrooms, some of which don’t even have furniture.

Despite the challenges the school is facing, we received a lovely warm welcome from the staff and pupils and it was great to see how the school have been using their books. I was inspired to see how hands on Jo, Louise and Amjad were! They got straight down to meeting the children and reading with them. People’s Postcode Lottery is based in Edinburgh so they had brought some beautiful new books about Scotland as gifts. Jo confessed she was worried that they might find words like Edinburgh or concepts like the Loch Ness Monster difficult to understand, but the children immediately began reading with the visitors and loved learning about the new places and ideas!

In the afternoon, we visited the main library to attend the opening ceremony of the new Children’s Corner. Local children entertained the visitors with their traditional dancing and singing, before getting a chance to use the corner themselves and take part in fun reading activities put on by the librarians, while smaller children got to grips with some board books and enjoyed running around in their brand new space.

The generosity of players of People’s Postcode Lottery allows us to do so much and it was absolutely wonderful to see Jo, Louise and Amjad interacting with just of a few of the many thousands of readers who benefit from the £900,000 we have so far received. The timing of the visit was also fantastic, as players of People’s Postcode Lottery are funding the Zanzibar library service to celebrate International Literacy Day on 8 September. These funds will allow the library to welcome more people into reading and helping them create spaces where literacy can thrive and we cannot thank the players enough.

I thoroughly enjoyed giving People’s Postcode Lottery staff a close-up view of what players’ generosity makes possible and we look forward to many more years of working together.

Our entire team here at Book Aid International would like to thank People’s Postcode Lottery for sending Jo, Louise and Amjad to Zanzibar – we hope they enjoyed the visit as much as we did!

Zanzibar is just one of the places where literacy is thriving. Players are also funding International Literacy Day celebrations in 10 other countries and territories. These celebrations take place on Friday, 8 September. For real time updates or to see more of the places where literacy is thriving, follow@book_aid or read our where literacy thrives’ blog.

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