MEDIA RELEASE: Books offering chance to learn to conflict-affected children
As the conflict in Cameroon intensifies, Book Aid International is working with its long-standing Cameroonian partners to provide books to the country’s displaced children. The charity will send 30 Pioneer Book Boxes full of 5,000 carefully selected, UK publisher donated books to six centres for people who have fled the violence in country’s Anglophone North West and South West regions.
What began as peaceful protests and strikes by lawyers and teachers more than two years ago has now degenerated into a situation which looks increasingly like war, with armed groups asking for an independent state. Dozens of villages have been burnt down and an estimated 300,000 people have fled in search of safety.
Thousands of children are taking shelter in Cameroon’s forested areas with their families, living a life without books, without classrooms and without any form of formal education. Others who are in refugee camps in neighbouring villages have limited access to education because active fighting makes it impossible to attend school regularly. One young girl who lives with her family in the forest spoke of what her life is like and her hopes: “I will not be able to go back to my village and school which have been burnt down. The forest is now my home though there are no schools and books here. I still have hopes to go to school and read books again.”
Schools have been a target for violence and a network of churches and NGOs are fighting to educate Cameroon’s displaced children. One Bishop involved in these efforts spoke about the importance of education: “We believe that we can give these children hope in a hopeless situation. Dreams should not end because there is strife and conflict, but unless we right the wrongs now for these children so they can learn today, there will be no tomorrow for them and their communities. Education is every child’s basic human right and we are committed to giving it to them.”
The books that Book Aid International will provide will give these inspiring individuals the tools they need to help displaced children learn. The 30 Pioneer Book Boxes the charity is sending are filled with books selected to support the education of displaced Cameroonian children as well as a printed manual to support educators, offering advice on reading activities. Each box can be moved from place to place as the needs of displaced people change, ensuring that whatever the future holds children will still be able to read, to learn and to escape into a great story.
Book Aid International’s Chair, Lord Paul Boateng, spoke of the charity’s determination to reach those fighting for education in Cameroon and expressed its thanks to all of those who have made this very special donation possible: “Cameroon is currently in the midst of a deadly internal conflict. Our local partners are facing real hardship with great fortitude, and we are so pleased to be able to help. We are only able to reach out through the support of volunteers, individuals, UK publishers, trust funders and players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Thanks to their generosity and our intrepid local partners, books will reach thousands of people – providing an escape through the written word from the horrors of what is increasingly resembling a civil war.”
The 5,000 books that Book Aid International is sending to Cameroon are part of its wider work reaching out to conflict-affected communities, providing the books that people living with daily violence need to continue their education and imagine a better tomorrow. The charity aims to expand this work and is appealing for support. To find out more or get involved, visit www.bookaid.org.
Notes for editors
For further information and comment please Jenny Hayes, Communications Executive at Book Aid International or Emma Taylor, Head of Communications at Book Aid International.
t: 020 7326 5800 / 020 7326 5801
Book Aid International Chair Lord Paul Boateng is available for comment. Lord Boateng has a long-standing commitment to development in Africa. As the UK Prime Minister’s Special Representative he was instrumental in Gordon Brown’s work to deliver the Africa Commission report in 2005, which included advocating increased support for Africa’s development. He was High Commissioner to South Africa from 2005-2009 and is today involved in a wide range of charitable and business organisations working to realise the potential of Africa.
About Book Aid International
Book Aid International is the UK’s leading international book donation and library development charity. Every year, the charity sends around one million brand new books to people around the world who would otherwise have very few opportunities to access books and read.
Book Aid International works with an extensive network of libraries, schools, hospitals, NGOs and other partners to ensure that the books it sends reach as many people as possible. The charity estimates that the books it provides reach 24 million people every year.
Book Aid International has worked with partners in Cameroon since 1962. In addition to donating brand new books to support readers of all ages and stages in public libraries, the charity has created welcoming spaces for young readers in libraries through its Children’s Corner Programme and also supplies books to support schools and higher education institutions across the country.
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