Lifelong learning in action

Elina's story

Here at Book Aid International, we often talk about the importance of lifelong learning. But what does this really mean? This is Elina’s story of how books can change a life at any time.




This is Elina Simalengwa. Elina is a member of the Banenge group of the BaTonga tribe which is found in the Binga District of Zimbabwe. She currently lives in the Muunde Community.

When Elina was a child, she attended primary school, which was free in her area. However, when she passed her grade seven exams and proceeded to secondary school, her family ran into financial difficulty because secondary education was not free. Her family couldn’t afford the school fees and the books she needed, and Elina left secondary school during her second year.


Gallery Elina-with-family-


In 1995, Elina married Michael, who had also left school for the same reasons, and they moved together to Muunde Community. They were both keen to continue their education, but this was not easy as there were no books for them to be able to self-study, and as their family grew, it became harder and harder to pursue their dream of education.

However, things were about to change for Elina. In 2010, Muunde established a community library, which was stocked with books from Book Aid International, via the Victoria Falls Public Library. The community jumped on the opportunities this presented, and Elina and her husband were at the front of the queue!




Elina joined an adult night school for informal lessons. She became a regular user of the library, and used it both for study and to help her and her husband with their farming work. In 2012, when she was 38, she attempted Ordinary Level (end of schooling) exams and achieved a full certificate.

She applied for a vacancy to do a course on Early Childhood Development (ECD) in 2013 at the United College of Education and she succeeded. While she was at college, she still used to borrow books from the Muunde Community library because the library stocks included her college material. She graduated from her course in August 2014.

Currently, Elina is a volunteer Early Childhood Development teacher at Dungu centre which is one of the three centres for the Muunde Primary school. She is still using the Muunde Community Library because the books are suitable for her class and also for her own further studies.




Elina has become an important role model in her community because of her academic success. She is contributing to her family’s financial situation and they are now able to buy cattle as an investment for the future. Her children are now getting a good quality education, which will also serve the community in the future.



You can find out more about our work in public libraries here.