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Books for frontline workers in Malawi

Richard Banda is a lecturer of health subjects at St John of God College of Health Sciences in Malawi. He knows first-hand that the healthcare system in Malawi is hit with a lot of challenges.

“Many people live in rural areas where they have to travel long distances to access health services, so you find that people seek help from local traditional healers and mortality rates are high. One of the main problems is access to information. A lot of issues can be prevented if people can be made aware of how to recognise signs and symptoms. If they are given the right information, the result can be a great improvement in healthcare.

At the college, there are also challenges. Most people I teach come from poor families and affording to pay school fees is not something that people see as simple. Sometimes websites provide resources, but people are required to pay for them and the internet, and as Malawi is a low-income country, most people can’t afford it. But I appreciate the work of Book Aid International in our college. They supply us with a lot of our materials.

I use the new books frequently; I make sure I acquire the latest information. I use them to prepare lessons and sometimes I refer them to students as reference materials and reading in order to deepen understanding.

Since Book Aid International donated books, I’ve never faced any problem accessing information. Every student is keen to study because of the new books in the library.

They have helped me to advance in my personal career, too. I remember when I came to this place. It was new for me. I was not part of the college, but the moment I started visiting the library I was able to discover some areas that I needed to improve. It was the library where I could get that information. So it impacted me a lot, such that I wanted to advance in my career and apply for a Bachelor’s degree, which I did. I was successful and I completed it using the books. The same applies when I was doing my Master’s. I went to the same library so the books had a very positive impact on my life.

If the college had never received the books from Book Aid International? That would have been a very difficult situation. As I said, most people can’t afford to buy even a small bundle of internet, so to have a situation where you have a library full of books… this is an opportunity!

Before the donated books, I remember lecturers from Mzuzu University would come using their books to teach. They would give the class one book and say share with your friends. One book. It was difficult. But after Book Aid International started donating these books, the situation changed. People no longer share books, you can have your own books!

Students are able to borrow books and then read them at home, which is a very positive step. They are able to access the information they need. In other words, there is a great improvement. We are no longer struggling for one book.

I would urge Book Aid International to continue providing us with more books! It is my hope that they will, despite challenges just like the one that is facing the world currently. The books really make a difference.”

Thanks to our dedicated supporters and the generous book donations from UK publishers, we’ve been able to provide over 4,000 brand new, up to date books to St John of God College of Health Sciences, allowing all students and staff to access up-to-date information.

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