Tag Archives: Rwanda

Reading in Kigali

An update from Rwanda

Before lockdown in Rwanda, our partner Ineza Foundation was using books you help to send to support community libraries across the country. This included five Children’s Corners that we have created together and our Voyager Container Library in Kigali, giving a whole community access to brand new books.

Lockdown has closed schools and libraries in Rwanda but Ineza Foundation are finding new ways to support the communities they work in.

Here, Ineza’s Elizabeth Mujawamaliya Johnson tells us more.

Voyager Container Library
Our Voyager Container Library in Kigali

What restrictions on normal life are being imposed because of Covid?

After the initial two-week lockdown on 21st March due, we received extensions twice until 30th April.

Now Rwanda is taking steps to ease the measures. Public transportation has resumed but with limitations, there is a curfew from 8pm to 5am, schools will remain closed until September and wearing facemasks in public is mandatory at all times.

Businesses have resumed work with essential staff while other employers continue to work from home. Markets are open for essential vendors and hotels and restaurants are now open but have to close by 7pm. Meetings in public spaces and mass gatherings are still prohibited.

Education has been affected greatly.

How is the lockdown affecting people’s lives in Rwanda?

The first challenge was lack of food, especially in Kigali and other cities because many people live on their daily incomes. If you work, you can provide a meal for your family, but if no work, then no basic sustenance.

Also since Rwandans are culturally social, it was hard to stay home and not meet friends and family. However, people have had to learn new ways of living, by sharing what they have and using the phone to communicate. The government and partners provided food and neighbours also share what they have to support the vulnerable.

School in Kigali
Schools in Rwanda are currently closed

How is the lockdown affecting children’s education?

Education has been affected greatly, but again people have had to adjust to the reality of what is happening.

The government has launched an eLearning platform using TV, phones, computers and radio. But children living in rural areas are unable to access some of these as they don’t have a TV, smartphone or computer. However, the use of the radio to provide lessons is perfect as it can reach every student everywhere in the country.

It is just the beginning and I believe that more platforms will be introduced to support children to continue their learning at home until schools resume.

We have focused on supporting our local readers and communities with food.

Do people often have books at home in Rwanda?

Rwandans are not readers and they do not have books at home. The first national/public library is less than 10 years old and a culture of reading is currently being introduced. We believe the work we are doing with Book Aid International – creating and equipping more community libraries – is a solution to create that culture though getting books in to the hands of readers.

Our library in Shyorongi … is going to be used for early childhood monitoring and support … This is a great opportunity to promote literacy by providing those new mums with new books to borrow.

How has your work changed since the lockdown?

During the past few weeks, we have focused on supporting our local readers and the communities with food distribution. Basically, we decided to focus on responding to  immediate needs and also following what the government was recommending.

Shyorongi library
Shyorongi library has been repurposed to support local new mums. Ineza Foundation hopes to lend books to them too

The libraries are still closed, but as of today, our library in Shyorongi in the Northern Province is going to be used by local community for early childhood monitoring and support. Basically, mothers with newborn babies and pregnant women will meet at the centre to receive food and to learn how to prepare complete meals for their babies. This is a great opportunity for Ineza Foundation to promote literacy by providing those new mums with books to borrow once a week, until the libraries are open again.

Here in Gisozi, we are continuing to sort books for future distributions.

We believe if we can get more books into the hands of children during lockdown, they will help further their learning.

Do you have any further plans in development?

Yes, we are working with local government officials exploring ways to use the books. We are looking at promoting take-home books distribution. We believe if we can get more books into the hands of children during lockdown, they will help further their learning. When the schools reopen, children will be able to share with their classmates about their reading at this time, they will be motivated to continue reading once back at school. Also, if we can get more books to children, parents will also read or children will read to their parents, therefore promoting the reading culture at all levels: young and adult.

The only challenge we have, is how to get these books to many children, taking into consideration the COVID restrictions. We are still having discussions; we do not want to act before approval from local government. Safety for the community comes first!


*The photos contained in this blog were taken before lockdown.

Reading activity in Uganda

Enjoying stories across the world

The books that supporters like you help to send are loved by children across the world!

Here, we’ve gathered together some of their favourite reads which they shared with us to mark World Book Day on the 5th March:


Reading can open up a whole new world to the reader, you can become whoever you want to be – a pirate, a spy, a princess, or an animal. By reading you can travel, explore new worlds, and go on adventures. All that is possible just by opening up a book.

– Clarissa, Street Children Empowerment Foundation, Ghana.


Thimpu, Bhutan

Bhutan book club


Keen young readers in Thimpu, Bhutan, love visiting their local READ Model Centre after school where Ms. Yangcen leads read aloud sessions. Recently, she read I Love Mum with the Very Hungry Caterpillar.


Dandora, Nairobi, Kenya

Enjoying books at DADREG's library in Nairobi


In Nairobi’s Dandora slum in Kenya, the community library run by our partner DADREG is a place that children love to visit to share stories. It’s a place that keeps them busy away from the local landfill site where many of them often join their families to sift for items to sell to make ends meet:

Reading storybooks puts smiles on our faces and books make learning exciting!


Enjoying books in Ghana


In Ghana, the kids at the schools and libraries supported by our partner Rainbow Trust love to read all sorts of books; here they show off just a few of them!

We love reading these books because they are colourful and packed full of fun! Some of the books, like Samson: The Mighty Flee and The Wildest Cowboy encourage the children that with perseverance, they can succeed.

Mathare, Nairobi, Kenya

The kids who read at Mathare Youth Sport Association’s (MYSA) libraries in the Mathare slum in Nairobi, Kenya, are lucky enough to have lots of staff and volunteers who read all sorts of stories with them.

Sharing stories at MYSA in Kenya


At MYSA’s Mathare North Library the kids recently listened to Librarian Stephen reading We Could Help:

Here in the Mathare slums, people litter everywhere so I chose ‘We Could Help’ so the children realise that they can join hands to clean their communities for a better tomorrow.

– Stephen

And Library Attendant Charles, read them The Little Dancer and Other Stories – because they love to dance!

Sharing stories at MYSA in Kenya

Most of the children I was reading the story to are in the library dancing club. So I thought the story might encourage them to continue dancing and maybe think of starting a ballet dancing club in the library.

– Charles


Banjul, The Gambia

Reading at Gambia National Library Service Authority


All sorts of children’s fiction and non-fiction books are loved by the kids who read at the Gambia National Library Service Authority’s library! They especially love story books.


Kpando, Ghana

Sharing stories in class in Ghana


The kids at Delta Preparatory School’s Library Club (which gets books from its local Ghana Library Authority branch) love sharing the The Stone Age to the Iron Age book and learning how tools and farming techniques have changed.


Gaza Strip and the West Bank

In the West Bank and Gaza Strip, our partner Tamer Instuitue for Community Education organises all sorts of reading workshops and activities, book launches, discussions and good old read alouds!


Musanze, Rwanda

Reading at Agati Library in Rwanda


In Rwanda, the kids at Agati Library in Musanze particularly love to be read Momo and Snap, a picture book about the ups and downs of the friendship between a young monkey and a young crocodile.

Reading Momo and Snap creates a feeling of excitement, thrill and even friendship.

Gwanda, Zimbabwe

Young readers at the Edward Ndlovu Memorial Library in Zimbabwe love Funnybones so much that they request it again and again!


Tonkolili, Sierra Leone

Reading at Tonkolili District Library


In Sierra Leone, children enjoy reading all sorts of books and stories but at Tonkolili District Children’s Library, The Dinosaur Who Pooped A Lot! is a particular favourite!


Jamestown, Accra, Ghana

Sharing stories at Street Children Empowerment Foundation in Ghana


The children at Street Children Empowerment Foundation’s library in Accra, Ghana are currently reading a book called Mine:

The children love the illustrations and we chose this book because it teaches the children how important sharing is. Sharing spreads happiness – and so do books!


We are continuing to work with our partners as much as possible and support them wherever we can as they respond to COVID-19 and find new ways to give as many people as possible access to brand new books.


Voyager Container Library

Our first Voyager Container Library

Last year, books arrived in the community of Gasave in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, in our very first Voyager Container Library!

In partnership with Ineza Foundation and Gisozi Sector Gasobo District Council we transformed a 40-foot shipping container into a thriving community library filled 5,000 brand new books in English and Kinyarwanda, giving local children and the wider community access to new books!

Check it out here:

We’d like to say a special thank you to players of People’s Postcode Lottery for supporting this project and making our first Voyager Container Library possible!


Boy reading

Inspiring the next generation through books

Prosper, Rigobert and Patience in Rwanda grew up with little access to books outside of school. When they graduated from high school, they saw the impact this had on some of their friends who struggled to write letters, apply for jobs and even communicate on social media.

They and three of their friends wanted to change things for the next generation and so they decided to open a children’s library – the first in their district, Musanze. They saved up enough to rent a space for the library for six months and Agati Library was born.

Here Prosper, Rigobert and Patience tell us more about the library and how it is already impacting local children in Musanze:

Patience, Rigopert and Prosper
L-R: Patience, Rigopert and Prosper

Why did you decide to open a library?

Rigobert: When we were kids we didn’t have the chance of having a place where we can get books.

Patience: And so, for some, they are finishing high school and even writing a letter is hard, it can take you like two days.

Prosper: Or they can’t apply for a job, so they have to find someone else to do it for them. I was lucky to be able to go to school but this is the case for a lot of others.

Patience: So when we left high school we made an association.

Rigobert: We were looking for things that were lacking in our community and thinking of the things we could do to help our community and we came up with the idea of making a small library for kids.

Patience: One of the co-founders had the chance of writing a book, the book became successful so when we were thinking about what we lost with not having books, we saw that it was a big loss for us not having a library in our city. So we said let’s do it!

Inside the library
Agati Library has become very popular with local children

What activities do you run in the library?

Rigobert: The first mission is to promote literacy in our community and also promote art at the same time because I am an artist and I wanted to teach the young kids how to paint to give them the opportunity to become a great artists.

Prosper: Kids come and read but we also run other activities to incentivise them to keep coming to the library so they don’t feel like reading is boring. So on the weekends some kids who are passionate about art come and Rigopert gives them some basics. And we also feel like sports is a really important thing so we ask regular readers who are interested in sport to make a team – it might be basketball, tennis, whatever.

We also have the reading sessions so that we can engage the parents at the library – they can come, read to the kids so the kids can believe reading is healthy.

But we don’t say it’s our library, it’s a community library so we encourage everyone, every parent and young person, to bring their ideas together and keep building the activities.

Last month we were very happy when some students from P6 asked “can we do a debate club at the library because these children at this other school, were saying that they are better in English than us?” And we were like “wow!”

Kids reading
Agati Library runs a number of activities to engage children in reading

What difference is the library making?

Prosper: When we started the library, many kids would come to the library and open books but not read them – they were just playing with them but now, they take one book, finish it and take another one. The more we open the library, the more they get used to the books.

Patience: Our regular users have become fluent in reading. One time we hosted a competition for primary schools and we saw the results that the kids who are the regular readers were better than the others.

Patience: At the start they would come and read only Kinyarwanda books but now they are starting to love other books in other languages like English, French and we see the impact they have because the kids can even interact in the language.

Rigobert: Our region is a touristic region – we have the Virunga Mountains, the gorillas, so it is good for the kids to know English so they can communicate with new people, so they can help them in different things.

Kids reading
Regular readers at Agati Library are excelling in reading!

Did you have any idea your library would become this popular?

Prosper: When we opened the library, we didn’t think it would get to the huge level it’s at now.

Patience: It’s become like part of our lives. As we were coming to the end [of the first six months] we were seeing a huge impact to the community – hundreds of kids were coming to the library.

Prosper: So we said “okay, even though we don’t have someone else to support the library and work together, let’s look at different things” [to keep the library open].

What do you hope for the future of your library and the community?

Prosper: We want the library to last even longer. Not two years, five years – a hundred years. So it’s the thing we want to be there forever in our home town.

Rigobert: People they think that reading is not our culture but we have to change that kind of mentality. That is why our library is focussing on kids. We thought that if we can help them love reading, they can be the great people in the future that can also help others to love reading.

Prosper: So we hope these kids who are reading now, who are loving books are the ones who when they finish high school can explain themselves in English, can write a letter, apply for a job, so we believe these kids will in the future be the great leaders.

Thanks so much to Prosper, Rigobert and Patience for sharing their inspiring story and the difference the books that our supporters help to send are making!


Celebrating 2019!

Supporters like you made 2019 another brilliant year.



Your support helped to send an astonishing 1,211,423 brand new books to 136 partners in 26 countries, reaching an estimated 25 million readers!


What remains of the library
2,500 books were sent to The University of The Bahamas’ library which was destroyed by Hurricane Dorian


2019 brought a series of book-destroying disasters and your support helped us respond to global events.

When Cyclone Idai devastated schools in Zimbabwe and Malawi and Hurricane Dorian hit The Grand Bahamas, you helped to send brand new children’s and higher education books, enabling learners to continue their education in the face of disaster.


Reading activity in Uganda's Adjumani Refugee Settlement
Displaced children in Uganda’s Adjumani Refugee Settlement are discovering the joy of reading thanks to books you’ve helped to send


You also helped us to continue to reach displaced people around the world, sending 25,377 books to refugee camps across Southern Europe and sub-Saharan Africa.

You even helped us bring solar lamps as well as books to secondary school libraries in Kenya’s Kakuma Refugee Camp so that reading and studying no longer has to stop when the sun goes down.


Canon School cakes
An astonishing 785 schools fundraised to support our work on World Book Day


Children and teachers from 785 schools took part in World Book Day, raising an incredible £98,428 enabling us to send 49,214 books to people who need them most around the world.



Players of People’s Postcode Lottery helped us do something particularly special – up-cycle a shipping container into a thriving community library in Rwanda!

Together we achieved so much and we would like to thank each and every person who made it possible.

Watch this video to see just some of the ways your support made a difference in 2019!

Reading together

The shipping container making writers of the future

Earlier this year, books arrived in the community of Gasave in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali in our very first Voyager Container Library!

The new library is housed in a repurposed shipping container, placed in a public park in Gasave.

We talked toElizabeth Mujawamariya Johnson from our partner Ineza Foundation to find out more about the new library and the difference it is making for local children.

Kigali scenery
Many families in Gasave live in six-by-four-metre homes

What is life like in Gasave?

Life in the city is not easy. The inequality is obvious. So here in Gasave, surrounding the library, people are quite wealthy but go down the hill just 500 metres and you will find families living in a six by four metre home.  They are labourers, cleaners or sell on the street. Most of them are making maximum two dollars a day.

School library
Many children in Rwanda have little access to books other than those used to support the curriculum in school

What is access to books like in Rwanda?

There are not many reading books here in Rwanda. The first public library here in Kigali is maybe seven years old. The government is working hard to supply curriculum books for schools but many people do not have enough income to buy books and there is a need of having extra resources for kids to use.

In order to be educated, if you are not a reader, it is hard.

In order to be educated, if you are not a reader, it is hard. Because whether you’re doing primary, secondary or high school, you need books. It’s part of the puzzle – there’s no way of finishing the puzzle without them.

Why did you decide to do a container library?

As a charity, we are trying to get books into the hands of kids – it is one of our visions. And with a container, if there is any community that has a space [for a container] then we can do a project.

What’s the library like?

It’s made in a 40 foot container and can sit around 50 kids. It’s in the setting of a public park. We transformed it, painted it, made shelves and it’s holding over 5,000 books in English and Kinyarwanda. It’s all covered so that when it rains, people are sheltered. It’s a reading environment that’s really attractive.

It’s a reading environment that’s really attractive.

What changes have you seen since the library came?

When we come here on the weekend, it’s packed. There are so many kids! It showed me that their hearts are just boiling for reading.

Busy library
The new Voyager Container Library is very popular!

Not only are kids coming and really having fun, they are all preparing for the national exams – they go inside and grab some of the books to get additional resources.

. . . their hearts are just boiling for reading.

Before the library was here, after school kids would go home and what do they do? Mum is probably out working, dad is not home and they end up starting bad behaviours cause there are no parents looking after them. But now they’re here reading and socialising.

Enjoying beautiful books in the Voyager Container Library

If there was no library for them, some of them wouldn’t be doing well in school. But they are doing their homework here, using the resources and there is a huge improvement in terms of grade – it goes up because of the resources. So giving them this library allows them to go to the next level so they can be the people they want to be.

Giving them this library allows them to go to the next level so they can be the people they want to be.

What are your hopes for the future of the children of Gasave?

The hope I see for these kids, I want to see them being the ones who are actually publishing books. In Rwanda, there’s not many books because in order to write, you need to read. If you don’t read, you can’t write. So if these kids continue to use this and other libraries, they’ll maybe be publishing their own books in the future. They can become those readers who have the zeal to say ‘I can write a book as well.’


We would like to thank the players of People’s Postcode Lottery for supporting the first Voyager Container Library.

Voyager Container Library

Our first Voyager Container Library is open!

Earlier this year, in partnership with the Ineza Foundation and Gisozi Sector Gasobo District Council in Rwanda, we opened our very first Voyager Container Library!

The brand new library in Gasave, Kigali, is housed in a converted 40-foot shipping container, set in a public park in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali.


The transformation from container to library included painting eye-catching murals, adding a roof, veranda and outdoor seating in addition to shelves and filling it with over 5,000 brand new books in English and Kinyarwanda.

Rwanda does not have a public library network and many children’s only opportunity to read is often from old books at community libraries and curriculum books in school.

The books in the new Voyager Container Library are a vital new resource and the library is already incredibly popular with local children:

When we come here on the weekend, it’s packed. There are so many kids! They are doing their homework here, using the resources and there is a huge improvement in terms of grade. So giving them this library allows them to go to the next level so they can be the people they want to be.

– Elizabeth M Johnson, Ineza Foundation


Carine loves reading donated books at the new library

The library contains books both for primary and secondary level students, and many pupils are using the library to support their studies:

At school we have books but limited days when we were supposed to read. Now we have this library, I come every day after school. Now I can read so often I will know how to read better and I will now start approaching English books and be able to read English better.

– Carine, 12, P6 student at GS Gisozi School I


We would like to thank the players of People’s Postcode Lottery for supporting the first Voyager Container Library.

Zanzibar ILD

Speaking up for reading

In September, our partners in fifteen African countries held celebrations to mark International Literacy Day.

Many used it as an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of literacy and reading, introduce more members of the local community to the library and also to highlight literacy and multilingualism – the theme of this year’s International Literacy Day.

Our partners flew the flag for literacy in all manner of locations from national libraries in bustling capital cities to small community libraries in rural areas.

And everyone was invited – and attended – from Government ministers, national TV stations, newspaper journalists to mayors, chiefs, farmers, local NGOs, publishers, authors, and of course teacher, pupils and their parents.

Books you helped to send were used as prizes for participating schools, providing 100s of new, inspiring children’s books for them to add to their library collections.

Here, our partners tell us more about how they marked the day – and the impact it has had in their communities:


Cameroon ILD participants


“EISERVI library is located in Yaounde, the political capital of Cameroon. The city today is made of all ethnic groups in Cameroon and many people work as civil servants. Ongoing conflict means that IDPs are flocking to the city and school class sizes are swelling meaning that children have to share books often one between ten.

The library serves the community of Yaounde and Cameroon in general with books to meet the needs and aspirations of children and adults, academics and entrepreneurs.

Our International Literacy Day celebrations included speeches, a spelling bee, a tour of the library, poem presentations, cultural dances and a fashion parade. The activities showcased the different languages in Cameroon and students also held a debate on ‘can literacy be acquired through multilingualism?’

The children were so happy to see and access a large variety of books in a well organised library.”

I have discovered as a teacher that I still have a lot to do with my pupils concerning reading and other literacy activities. This event is a spring board for me.

– Mr Effa Joseph, Head Teacher, Government Bilingual Primary School.

“Some of the children who attended the event now come to the library after school. You can see the excitement in them as they read. Some even ask for books to read at home with their siblings.”


ETHIOPIA  – Cheffe Donsa Community Library

CODE Ethiopia‘s Cheffe Donsa Community Library supports a suburban community living about 57km outside Addis Ababa. While it is suburban, it needs further support and the community’s participation in the library is encouraging.

Our celebrations included poem presentations, reading testimonies by library users and contests between students.”

Our library set our community free from darkness. It is our university.

– An elderly participant.

GHANA  – Eastern Regional Library

Ghana Library Authority‘s celebrations were held at our Eastern Regional Library in the city of Koforidua.

Students recited poetry, performed traditional adowa dances and recited books they have read. We also held a six-book challenge in the run up in which students read six books and had to summarise each. We awarded participating students at the ceremony.”

It’s been barely a week but more kids are visiting our library after the event and now parents are making it mandatory that they come to the library even if they cannot read with them at home.

– Koforidua Library

KENYA – knls Lusumu Community Library

“This year’s celebrations were held at knls Lusumu branch library in Kakamega County, Western Kenya. The library is situated in a village where people are predominantly crop farmers and some also rear animals. There is a lot of poverty here and parents are determined to educate their children. The library was opened in 2009 to support parents in this effort – and provide a resource centre for the whole community.

There were songs, a drama, speeches based on literacy celebration. The Kakamega County Governor HE Prof Philip Kutima urged Members of Parliament within the region to consider establishing libraries within their constituencies.”

Books were given to participating schools for their libraries and many of them acknowledged that they had very few supplementary reading books in their schools.

“Following the event we have had an increase in visits, more enquiries about our services, especially from schools who want to know how they can be involved in future library events and registering as institutional members.”



Grace Rwanda‘s celebrations were held at both the Nyamagabe Youth Centre Library in Nyamagabe and Vision Jeunesse Nouvelle Library in Rubavu. Residents in Nyamagabe live on low income and are mostly farmers. The literacy rate is still moderate.”

“The ceremonies started with traditional dance to songs on the theme of reading and writing in different languages. There were speeches read aloud in Kinyarwanda, French and English. There were also spelling bees, reading aloud, debates and storytelling activities. We also had a display of donated books.

The event really helped promote the libraries and books to the wider communities.”

We were seeking books and we had to look elsewhere but now we have this library it will help us so much.

– Kagame Gad, Primary 6 student.

SIERRA LEONE – Sierra Leone Library Board HQ

“Sierra Leone Library Board’s Headquarters Library in Freetown is in a community dominated by workers, students and a few business people. The library accommodates users from all walks of life from toddlers to elderly people.

Our International Literacy Day activities included a story competition in local languages, a melodrama set to local songs and a demonstration of our French lessons for children. There was also a short skit entitled Had I Known about the importance of having reading and writing skills in your local language because you never know when you will need it. All competitions were also done in the local dialect.”

The celebration of this day each year has helped to raise awareness about reading.

SOMALILAND – Silanyo National Library


Somaliland ILD


“The Silanyo National Library is in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland. It’s the nation’s first national library and serves school pupils, teachers, university students and other members of the public.

Our International Literacy Day celebrations included a quiz for the school children covering science, geography and history in which they had to answer the questions in either Somali, Arabic or English.”

As a result of the celebrations, school teachers that attended have since decided to set a specific time for reading during their school hours.

TANZANIA – Tanga Regional Library

“Tanga Regional Library is a public library run by the Tanzania Library Services Board. The Tanga region is a coastal community where inhabitants mostly engage in fishing, crop cultivation and small-scale business. There is also an urban community of professionals and students.

Our International Literacy Day activities included a library tour, a spelling competition, a reading competition, and cultural entertainment. We also invited all audience members to select a book and read it for pleasure.

The day after the event, parents and teachers brought their children to the library to register for the book club and also to join as members.”

This is the most interesting educational programme I ever expected a local library could organise.

– Mrs Miriam Magambo, parent.

While reading is basic to learning it is also basic to survival. Lack of reading is disasterous because reading is a most efficient way of acquiring knowledge and a source of achieving sound development of our minds … A public library is a place designed to freely support the attainment of those purposes.

Abdulatif Famao, Torf Book Club CEO.

UGANDA – Nambi Sseppuuya Community Resource Centre

“The Nambi Sseppuuya Community Resource Centre is based in a rural community whose basic activity is subsistence farming. The centre is an inititative to contribute to the fight against poverty, illiteracy and disease through education and provision of reading materials.

Our activities on International Literacy Day included reading for pleasure, read alouds, storytelling, poem recitals, letter and reading games.”

The head teacher of a school just across the Nile River came back to the resource centre to thank us and to inform us that the children desired to visit the centre regularly.

“Many people who had not been to this resource centre are now visiting and calling up.”

ZAMBIA – Soloboni Primary School library

“Most of the community around this library are not in formal employment. Most of them are self-employed with no stable income.

Soloboni Primary School’s library serves both the learners and the surrounding community.

Zambia Library Service held a two day event at the school. On the first day schools competed against each other in reading competitions. On the second, pupils led a literacy parade which included a brass band and majorettes, plus book and poetry readings and debates. We also had a reading tent where young readers could enjoy books.”

There’s been an increase in the interest in books. The staff in charge of the reading tent were overwhelmed with the influx of children wanting to read.

ZANZIBAR – Unguja Public Library

“Community members’ activities in Unguja include small business, fishing and tourism. The library serves the general community from children to adults.

At Zanzibar Library Services’ celebrations we had a demonstration in which participants took slogans and pictures that promoted the culture of reading, there was a library tour and students performed a drama highlighting the importance of using the library. There was also drawing, a quiz and a book exhibition which included multilingual books that are essential for community development.”

As a result of the celebrations, many more children have been introduced to the library and the services it offers.

“The local community are now more ready to support the development of library services in Zanzibar.”


Our partners also held celebrations in the Gambia, Liberia, Malawi and Zimbabwe.

Children's Corner a MYSA Library

August Book of the Month

Our latest Book of the Month is:

How Football Explains Africa
Africa United: How football explains Africa by Steve Bloomfield

From the introduction:

“This is not just a book about world cup success. It’s not about goals scored and matches won. It’s about how football can rebuild a country, end a war or provide a beacon of light in a time of despair. It’s the story of how Africa has been shaped by football and how Africa is now shaping football.”

Covering thirteen countries across Africa, journalist Steve Bloomfield speaks to everyone from players and fans to politicians and rebel leaders to discover how football has influenced the continent.

He finds that while the passion that fans have for the game remains just as strong in different countries, the context changes; a nation’s football regularly reflects its politics and culture.

Back cover


This book is a fascinating read and not just for football fans. The book would also be incredibly useful for those studying social sciences, history or anthropology.

Absorbing non-fiction books like this, especially on such a popular topic, are also a great way to change reluctant readers’ perceptions about books and help them discover the joy of reading.

The real-life examples of how football has been an influence for unity and positive change in different African countries will also be useful for our local NGO partners who work in the community or with youth as they think about how they can use sports programmes to help people overcome the challenges they face.

This includes the Mathare Youth Sports Association in Kenya and who use football to empower young people living in Nairobi’s Mathare slum, the community youth centres that Grace Rwanda supports and Windle International in South Sudan.

ILD celebrations in Cameroon

Celebrating literacy across Africa!

Last month, our partners across 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa celebrated International Literacy Day and the power of reading with some of the communities they work in.

The scene is set for celebrations in Tanzania


From Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania’s bustling capital city to remote, rural Zimbabwe, hundreds of school children took part in reading and spelling competitions, performed marches, dances, songs and dramas, gave presentations and speeches and engaged in debates.


Reading competition reader
A pupil in Kenya takes part in a reading competition


Local dignitaries and government officials attended as did local and national media, teachers, parents, publishers and writers as well as members of the wider communities. And all with the aim of promoting reading and raising the profile of libraries and the services they offer.


Giving out awards
A young reader is awarded a prize at EISERVI’s celebrations in Cameroon

As part of the celebrations, each partner gave out 600 brand new, inspiring books that you have helped to send as prizes for participants and for schools to add to their library collections. Our hope is that these books will enable children to continue to enjoy reading long after the excitement of the celebrations have faded.

Occasions like International Literacy Day provide the perfect opportunity to promote reading and literacy. Find out more about some of our partners’ celebrations below.



Celebrations took place at EISERVI’s library in Cameroon’s capital city Yaoundé.

Cameroon students
Secondary school students show off their prizes and book donation for their school library

Once the day’s celebrations were over, children who had never visited EISERVI’s library before were keen to return as soon as they could:

Aunty, I like your library and I would like to come here and read after school. Can I?

– Wenyi Favour, Government Primary School.



In Zimbabwe, Edward Ndlovu Memorial Trust took their celebrations to Selonga Primary School’s community library in rural Gwanda where pupils from neighbouring schools as well as their parents and the wider community joined them.

In addition to competitions, performances and presentations by the children, older people from the community read short stories and spoke of how literacy has enabled them to better their own lives and the lives of their families.

Being literate is important for everyone, young and old. In this fast-changing world, being illiterate will make you lose out on a lot of things – even being in touch with the larger outside world.

– Mrs Mathe.



Kenya National Library Service’s celebrations focused on Kwale branch library. Kwale County has the second highest rate of poverty in the country and a large percentage of school drop outs. This event was a great opportunity to promote reading and the library as a means of learning outside of formal education.

Reading competition
School children perform at Kenya National Library Service’s celebrations in Kwale


It changed the way I thought about reading. I thought reading was only for academic purposes …

– Benjamin Wabwire, teacher.



Our partner CODE Ethiopia celebrated International Literacy Day at Ejere Community Library in rural Ejere town.

Becoming a reader is a must.

– Tsige, teacher.

Apart from serving the local community, I myself have got a lot that changed my life from this library.

– Lemma Kefeni, retired teacher and former librarian.


Sierra Leone

The Sierra Leone Library Board marked International Literacy Day with an event at their headquarters library in Freetown.

There was huge excitement among the children that attended – for many of them it was the first time they had participated in an event like this.



Tanzania Library Services Board’s celebrations took place at their Central Library in Dar es Salaam.




The event included speeches from a variety of people highlighting the importance of reading:

Look how amazing it is that reading brings people together.

– Ms Latifah Miraji, Soma Book Café, local NGO.

Do not use your smart phones to serve only films or music, rather use it to download books of your desire. Read them, understand them and let them bridge your knowledge gap.

– Aneth Amos, pupil, Jangwani Girls Secondary School.


This year, the Library and Information Association of Eritrea held their celebrations at six public and community libraries across the Maekel, South and Anseba regions. This included two prisons where inmates gave speeches about the importance of reading in their lives. One 92-year-old female prisoner spoke about how she had completed first grade for the first time and is now preparing to enter second grade:

I will keep reading until my eyes no longer allow me to do so.



Grace Rwanda celebrated International Literacy Day at Ineza Children’s Corner in the Shyorongi Sector of the Northern Province.


Rwandan dancers
Celebrations included dance performances


The library has already seen an increase in visits from children and schools as a result of the event.


Football match
Celebrations even included a youth football match!

There are books we needed but couldn’t find them and we had limited books but now these books are here, we will read them much!

– Byaruhanga Moses, a pupil at GS Rwisirabo


International Literacy Day celebrations were also held by our partners in Liberia, Malawi, Uganda, Zambia and Zanzibar.