Tag Archives: Pioneer Book Box

“When I read I forget about the bad things that have happened”

Since 2018, Cameroon has continued to face a complex humanitarian crisis, impacting the lives of 3.3 million people. This crisis has led to families being separated and children left out of school for months or years at a time. For Children in Cameroon, Covid-19 is another obstacle to their rights to education.

Books in Cameroon, ready to be created into Pioneer Book Boxes

Book Aid International has delivered around 60 Pioneer Book Boxes to Cameroon that, through the help of Non-Government Organisations, we sent to areas where libraries and schools are not able to be accessed. Filled with brand new books, the boxes act as not only a source of new reading material but a place to come to learn, be inspired, create connections and make friendships.

Sheera* is 13. She now lives with her grandmother as three years ago, her mother, father and siblings were killed by stray bullets in her village when the military attacked. Since then, she hasn’t been back to school.

Sheera was shown the Pioneer Book Boxes by her local Catholic Church, who have been reaching out to refugees since the unrest began. She now comes for holiday classes, and this is how she’s been able to read and write again. She tells us: 

“When I grow up, I want to do Agriculture so that I can grow a lot of food, fruits, cocoa, coffee and plantains. So many people are hungry because there is no food. I want to feed the world with food from my farms.”

We did not have books to read until Book Aid International gave Pioneer Book Boxes to the Catholic priest and now we can read two or three days every week. I am so happy.

Child reading a book from a Pioneer Book Box (image from Kenya for safety reasons)

We also spoke to Tracy*, an 11-year-old who’s family store in the local market was burned during a bomb explosion. Her family lost everything, and she had to leave school to start selling on the road. Having access to a Pioneer Book Box has given her a chance to read and write again. 

Whenever I read, I feel happy and I forget about all the bad things that happened.

Dedicated staff like Mary-Anne, Executive Director of Girls Against Violence, are key in helping children like Sheera and Tracy continue with their education. Twice a week, Mary- Anne takes the box to displaced children who have no books in their schools or home and children who have lost everything in the conflict.

Now they can read and write again and are ready for school.

“Initially, most could not read. The phonics books helped a lot. When we met Sheera in November last year, she was very shy because she could not read, but now she reads and writes well. If they didn’t have access to the Pioneer Book Boxes, this wouldn’t be possible.”

 

*Due to safety reasons, we have changed the names of the people we spoke to.

School work Cameroon

“I was so happy because I could read again”

Covid-19 has brought education to a standstill for people across the world. In Cameroon, intrepid local NGOs are determined to not let the pandemic further affect the learning of children whose lives have already been greatly impacted by ongoing conflict. They are making Pioneer Book Boxes filled with brand new books safely available for children to enjoy.

Here, ten-year-old Fortune* tells us how the books are bringing her hope and happiness.

Cameroon forest
Conflict in Cameroon has forced many people to flee their homes and seek shelter in forests

When we were running away from the war, we spent months in the forest. Many people did. We could not go to school, church or hospital. We lived in fear, hunger and pain.

But one day, pastors came to give food and clothes to people in the forest and they took us to the Catholic church in Kumba. Then, when fighting settled down, a family gave us a room in their house to stay in.

I was so happy because I could read again.

In October last year they brought the Pioneer Book Box to the Catholic Mission. I was so happy because I could read again.

Pioneer Book Box
Children using a Pioneer Book Box in Kenya (Cameroon photo not used for safety)

At the church hall and in our house, I learn English, Maths, French, Geography etc with books from the Pioneer Book Box. They have helped me a lot. I have not gone to school since I left my home. I am praying for schools to start again in October.

I am praying for schools to start again in October.

My favourite subject is English Language and my favourite book is Phonics and English Grammar. I am so happy with the books.

When I grow up, I will be a journalist so that I will be able to report things that are happening in our towns, villages and our whole world so that people can be helped to live in peace and unity.

Thank you so much for the books, they have given us hope.

Thank you so much for the books, they have given us hope.

*Name has been changed.

Changing lives together in Kenya

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.