I live for the moment when a child gets a book.

Elizabeth Johnson, Ineza Foundation, Rwanda
Home Libraries From shipping container to library

From shipping container to library

Elizabeth Johnson runs the Ineza Foundation, a literacy organisation in Rwanda. She is a mother, philanthropist, leader and a friend of literacy. With the support of people like you, she just finished transforming a shipping container into a thriving community library.  

“Children here lack books – a problem that I faced in my early years. They live a rural life, with parents being farmers, or casual labourers with minimal income. They cannot afford to buy books for their children.  

I was fortunate to be educated. Now, I live for the moment when a child gets a book in his or her hands and starts turning the pages, and for the curious and smiling faces of children entering a library for the first time. 

The Ineza Foundation supports rural community libraries. They are visited by people of all ages – but 90% of our visitors are children. Without our libraries, these children would definitely only have a few curriculum books at school. For example in Jabana, where our new Community Container Library is, the nearest library was 40 km away. That is unreachable for anyone who doesn’t have a car – which is most people. The problem especially affects people with disabilities. 

That is why we selected it as the place for the Community Container Library. It is built from a high cube container with an elevated covered roof which also covers an outside reading area. It has wall-to-ceiling bookshelves with four large sliding windows and one large door with a ramp for wheelchair users or those with other mobility challenges. There are also tables designated for wheelchair access and six latrines that are also wheelchair accessible

And of course it has the most wonderful books – a total of 5,000 UK donated books. The Jabana library opened on 4th July 2022, and already there are around 80 children on daily basis using the library.

When we open a library, people in the surrounding neighborhood rejoice. 

It is a great facility where children and teenagers can come to read, play interact, learn and socialise. The users of the library are mostly children, and they are very excited. Some days are lining up at the door before the library opens its doors.  

This is our second Community Container Library with Book Aid International, and they have been our main literacy partner since 2017.  

They provide us all sorts of excellent English books through shipments from UK, provide grants to purchase local content books, have trained our librarians and helped us create Children’s Corners within existing community libraries. We also distribute books across Rwanda – for example to the University of Rwanda, Kigali Public Library, VSO, Girl’s Dignity for Nation, Street Child and African Parks Rwanda.

Our hope is to continue to get reading books into the hands of children where they are, to promote books and to continue librarian training. So the donated books are really appreciated. ” 

We would like to thank Elizabeth for sharing her story, and for her inspiring work. Read more about the Ineza Foundation

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