Changing lives together in Kenya

12th August 2019 | Blog

Grant Thomson, People’s Postcode Lottery’s Corporate Communications Officer, recently joined a team trip to Kenya to see first-hand the difference that players of People’s Postcode Lottery’s support is making for young readers there. Here he shares his experiences.

 

Grant Thomson
Grant at a Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) library in Kenya

When I found out that I’d be travelling to Kenya and meeting some of the charities that players support, including Book Aid International, I had no idea what to expect. I already had an understanding of the charity’s mission and work but I knew that experiencing it first-hand would be entirely different. And it really was.

This trip was doubly special as it was not only my first time in Kenya but my first time in Africa.

First up, we travelled to the Mathare slum in Nairobi to visit the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) library Around 100 adults and children from the surrounding area visit this library each day – a huge number!

Grant leads reading lesson
While at MYSA. Grant read a short story to a visiting class from a local school

As well as lending a hand to stamp and catalogue a newly arrived shipment of books, we took part in a class lesson. I put my group reading skills to the test and read a short story to the children of Toto Education Centre, a nearby school that was visiting and then quizzed them on what they had just heard. All of them got the answers correct!

Together, we helped the library staff prepare a Book Aid International Pioneer Book Box. It’s a mini library in an easy to transport box containing around 200 brand new children’s books and information for teachers on how to use the books in lessons. It was later presented to the teachers and pupils of Toto Education Centre.

knls visit
The trip included a visit to Kenya National Library Service’s headquarters where the team learned more about our joint work to supply communities across the country with all types of books

Later, we toured the new purpose-built Kenya National Library Service (knls) headquarters.  Book Aid International works with knls to provide a stock of brand-new books across more than 60 knls network libraries. The shelves have every category of book you could imagine, from bright and colourful children’s titles, to fiction and even medical, research and academic titles – this long-standing partnership is bringing books to communities everywhere.

Reading in class
A read-aloud session at Hope Education Centre in Kibera slum

After that we visited Hope Education Centre in Kibera slum. Here I sat in on a grade five lesson, where the children would each read part of a story, someone else would then re-tell it back to the class and then ask the other students questions.

Pioneer Book Box
The children at Hope Education Centre were so excited about their new Pioneer Book Box!

They too received a Pioneer Book Box – it was an incredible reaction from the school kids, many were keen to get their hands on the books and start reading there and then!

It was hugely surprising to see that libraries are so much more than spaces for accessing books. They are somewhere safe to not only read and learn but to play, sing and come together. The books Book Aid International supply offer adults and children countless opportunities to change and improve their lives.

My highlight was meeting the team at MYSA and hearing how their partnership with Book Aid International is changing the lives of the children and adults not only in Mathare but around Nairobi. The kids were wonderful, engaging and so keen to learn.

I’ve always known that the support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery is making a significant difference in Britain and beyond but seeing and hearing from some of those who are directly benefiting from players’ support brings this to life.

It’s an experience that I won’t be forgetting any time soon.

 

Players of People’s Postcode Lottery have supported Book Aid International since 2014 and have raised an incredible £1,850,000. A minimum of 32% of every ticket goes to support charities and good causes like ours. We’d like to thank them for their ongoing support.

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