Tag Archives: Rwinkwavu Community Library

Choosing books

Sharing stories in Rwanda

When Benitha was little, she struggled to learn to speak. Here, her mum tells us how she’s using books at her local library in Rwinkwavu, Rwanda, to help her daughter broaden her vocabulary and gain confidence:

Benitha’s mum has found that reading books has helped her daughter to expand her vocabulary

My daughter Benitha is five-years-old. When she was three, my husband and I learned that she was slow in learning to speak. It was hard for Benitha to make even one sentence still at the age of three.

The doctor told me that I needed to take my time and organise regular friendly talks with Benitha so that she could develop her vocabulary, learning new words and I was to measure her progress.

Reading together
Staff at the library also read books and run reading activities to help children discover the joy of reading

I started to take Benitha to the library and read stories to her. When I got back home, I’d ask her to share the story with her elder sisters. She tried her best and she started using her own vocabulary to share the story. This has helped her to learn more new words from reading.

I would say that reading has been the best tool and medicine to help Benitha.

She is now in preprimary class. I am happy that sharing stories has given her the foundation which is allowing her to easily learn more things in class and it seems that she is now catching up.



Getting ready for reading in Rwanda

Last week you heard about Espérance Community Centre in Rwanda and the difference the books you helped to send are making to local children in the capital city of Kigali. Here, learn about two more community organisations in Rwanda that you’re supporting with brand new books:


Ready for Reading at the Rwinkwavu Community Library


Story time at Ready for Reading


Jean Marie works for Ready for Reading, an organisation in Rwinkwavu in rural Eastern Rwanda. It is a poor area where most people are subsistence farmers with very limited resources. Jean Marie and the rest of the team at Ready for Reading, based at their library, the Rwinkwavu Community Library and Learning Centre, are working to give children in Rwinkwavu a brighter future and broaden their horizons:

After the library came, the children who were in school and the ones who dropped out and even the ones who finished, they still have a chance to learn something new. They still have a chance to learn ICT, to read books and learn about many things.


Helping children read
Jean Marie helps a young reader


I am hoping to see open-minded children, children who live locally but think globally. The only way to get this is to have a book as their friend. They are from a rural area, they don’t have money, their families are not able to take them on a trip to experience even their own country. But through reading they will be able to travel their country, travel the world. So the opportunity is helping them to learn, to know more things that they can’t access at school or at home.

Ready for Reading Librarian Ernestine has similar hopes for her local community:


reading activity
Ernestine leads a reading activity

Reading is important but here in Rwanda, in the village, people don’t like to read books. But since the library came to Rwinkwavu, many people come and read. We hope that the children will become good mums, good students, good politicians, businessmen or businesswomen.

Rafiki Youth Centre

Stephanie is the President of the Rafiki Youth Centre which serves a large community in a crowded urban district in the capital city of Kigali.

As well as housing a library, the Rafiki Youth Centre offers activities such as music, dance, sport and practical skills training well as computer access. Since Rwanda made English the main language of instruction in school, young people were making less use of the library’s mainly French collection. The English books we have supplied are really helping to revitalise the library:

Before, people told me that the Rafiki library is measly, but nowadays it is not measly because we have books in two languages in the library. I like novels. I have one author called Danielle Steel. I was reading her in French and now I found three books for Danielle Steel here [in English]! We’ll go far with books from Book Aid International because this is the beginning and we say thank you to you.


Thanks to our generous donors, we sent 30,000 books to Rwanda in 2017. In 2018, we hope to send even more books to people who would otherwise have few books, or even no books at all.

Every £2 you give could send another book to a library like the ones at Ready for Reading and the Rafiki Youth Centre.

Donate now

If you have any questions – or would prefer to donate offline – please don’t hesitate to contact us by emailing info@bookaid.org or calling 020 7733 3577.

Guided reading

Using books to build a brighter future

Jean Marie Habimana lives in Rwinkwavu in Eastern Rwanda. It is a rural area and most people make a small living from agriculture. Parents in Rwinkwavu want more for their children but often the local schools are under-resourced and children have very few books and learning materials to support their education.

For a long time, young people in Rwinkwavu had very few choices. But thanks to the Rwinkwavu Community Library and Learning Centre where Jean Marie works, things are changing.

Here, he tells us more:

Jean Marie
Jean Marie

Our organisation, Ready for Reading, was founded to ‘fight poverty of the mind and spirit’. We built the Rwinkwavu Community Library and Learning Centre to give local people the chance to access books and work to create a culture of reading in this remote rural area.

Our aim is to get the whole community reading and enjoying books, from the very youngest children to their parents and grandparents. We run so many programmes here – story telling, sports activities, music and dance classes. Secondary school pupils come here to study at weekends. Even children who have finished school or who have dropped out come here to keep learning.

We are running adult education classes too. Adults are learning to read later in life and learning about subjects like family planning and running small businesses. People are very happy to live in Rwinkwavu and nearby. They know the library is here to help their children with their education.

It wasn’t always like this. After the genocide in 1994, Rwinkwavu was empty. Many, many people were killed and everybody else fled. But then a hospital opened here and now we have the library too. Many people have come back – not only local people, but people are coming from far away because they know their children will have access to more opportunities.


A group of children read books together


Before the genocide, education was very bad. A lot of education focused on dividing people of different tribes, not giving opportunities to everyone, which was one of the things that led to the genocide. Afterwards, we had to learn to be united, to be just Rwandan together. Now our education is emphasising peace and reconciliation to make Rwanda feel like one people, not to feel like we are different. Reading is one way to help us shape our future.

We’re still working against many challenges. Books are very expensive, especially books for higher learning, for research. Lots of schools can’t afford to buy books, or have their own library. Even the books we have, I would say that a lot of them are old.


Helping children read
Jean Marie helps a young reader


When we heard Book Aid International was going to donate books to us, our readers were so excited to have the chance to read and find new information on all sorts of topics. We are hoping the donation from Book Aid International will bring in new people who will want to read the books.

It’s important to have books in English. Our mother tongue is Kinyarwanda, but from Primary 4 school is taught in English, so it’s important for our young people to have English books to read. We are hoping for books that will be not just for children but also adults, doctors and nurses in the hospital here, researchers and teachers. The books will help them work on their projects, on their research.


Using books to help with school work


I believe through books, reading and learning together, there is a bright future for our children. They will read for pleasure, grow their minds and learn new skills, and they will dream big dreams. I also believe that through reading they will know the truth about our culture, how we are one people and how we will shape our future together.

All of this will not happen as a miracle – we need everyone to be a part of it to make it work. You can be part of Rwanda’s future too, through your support of Book Aid International. So I would like to say thank you. Your support means a lot to us here in Rwinkwavu.


Thanks to our generous donors, we sent 30,000 books to Rwanda in 2017. In 2018, we hope to send even more books to people who would otherwise have few books, or even no books at all.

Every £2 you give could send another book to a library like Jean Marie’s.

Donate now

If you have any questions – or would prefer to donate offline – please don’t hesitate to contact us by emailing info@bookaid.org or calling 020 7733 3577.

Find out more about our work in Rwanda using the links below.