Tag Archives: sierra leone

The difference a book can make

Violet Lenger-Fofanah lives in Sierra Leone and runs a small charity that supports people living in poverty. She told us how the pandemic has affected the children she works with and why she believes books can change lives.

“In my role, I have seen so many children transform their futures through reading. More than half of families here face a daily struggle to make ends meet, and many schools have nowhere near enough teachers or even the most basic resources.

Violet supports the children in the local school with their reading

But it is my passion to make sure children get a good education – and by partnering with Book Aid International I can send books to schools and help create libraries too. Sometimes a single book is all it takes to fire a child’s imagination. You see their eyes light up. Instead of needing to share a book with other children, they can lose themselves in the pages, reading at the pace that’s right for them.

Sometimes a single book is all it takes to fire a child’s imagination.

But as the coronavirus pandemic forced schools here in Sierra Leone to close for nine long months, huge numbers of children had the magic of books stolen away from them. With their lessons stopped, children who dreamed of becoming the first nurse or doctor or lawyer in their families suddenly had to put those dreams on hold. We can’t let all that potential be lost, we need more books to help young people dream again.

My favourite thing is seeing children happy, able to go to school and progressing with their schoolwork. Education takes you where you’ve never been. It creates dreams then turns those dreams into reality. It can change the future not only of a single child but of whole communities, even whole countries. Books can help them decide who they want to be and gain the knowledge they need to follow their dreams. That’s how much difference a book can make.”

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!

Ghana

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.

 

Children's Corner a MYSA Library

December Book of the Month

Our December Book of the Month – and last of 2019 – is . . .

African Animals ABC
African Animals ABC donated by Letterbox Library

 

This beautiful board book, perfect for little hands, takes the reader on an alphabetical journey to meet 26 African animals from Antbear to Zebra.

Brought to life with bright, bold illustrations of each animal and decorated with African patterns, this is a book that young readers will love to pore over.

Additionally, the rhyming text will make it a popular and engaging choice for reading aloud:

Antbear naps,
Bushbaby blinks,
Crocodile snaps,
Dassie drinks.

This captivating introduction to the alphabet and African animals will be hugely popular with all children but it will be especially loved by those in African countries to whom many of these animals will be familiar.

Copies will soon be on their way to Sierra Leone where they’ll be used by one of our partners to introduce young street children to the joy of reading.

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 – EISERVI library

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.”

 

RWANDA

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.

Taking a book home

Inspiring Readers in Sierra Leone

Thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, when 25 under-resourced primary schools in Sierra Leone took part in our Inspiring Readers school library programme, school life began to change.

The programme created a cupboard library in each school, filled with over 1,000 brand new books to be used in class and for reading for pleasure. For many pupils, this was the first time that they had access to any books beyond their teachers’ text books. Lessons were more interesting and reading books suddenly became fun.

Pupils and teachers from the participating schools tell us more:

Reading in class in Sierra Leone
Pupils are enjoying donated books in class as part of new library lessons that their schools have introduced

Now that each school has story books to enjoy, every class has weekly timetabled library lessons. Pupils are discovering the joy of reading as a result:

“Even sometimes in classes when it’s time for reading they urge you. They say “it’s time for reading now.” They are so happy. They have the urge to read for themselves.”

– Mohamed S. Njai, Teacher, Ansarul Islamic Primary School, Bo.

Thomas and friends
Thomas (left) now regularly visits his school library to read

“I like books like Dressed for the Job because they show us many different clothes for different jobs like ambulance people. Sometimes I go to the library and I take them and I sit and read them. I am very comfortable with the books.”

– Thomas (pictured above), 12, Practising Primary School, Makeni.

This new love for reading has led to a huge increase in book borrowing. Ninety-four percent of pupils are now borrowing books to read at home, compared to only 49% before the project began:

“Reading makes us feel happy. Sometimes when I read my book at home, when I borrow a book from the library my sister helps me know the words that I don’t know how to pronounce.”

– Fatmata, 11 yrs, Practising Primary School, Makeni.

Borrowing books
Ninety-four percent of pupils now borrow books to read at home

“Some of them they come and order us to give them the books, because they want to read.”

– Abu Koroma, Teacher, St Michael’s Primary, Kissy.

Teachers are also using the new books to bring other curriculum subjects to life and make learning fun. Books can be a vital tool in schools where other teaching resources are scarce:

“They make a great impact in our teaching methods. Normally we lack school materials, but the supply of these books have helped us to teach key areas of learning.”

– Edward Abu Sesay, Teacher, Wesleyan Church of Sierra Leone Primary School.

Using a book in class
The books are also being used by teachers to bring lessons to life. Elizabeth (pictured) uses Handa’s Surprise to teach home economics

“The programme has helped us to know how to use the materials in terms of reading. We even use those materials to teach other subjects; maths, science and so forth.”

– Elizabeth Kumba Sesay, Teacher, Roman Catholic Primary School, Segbweme.

With all this exposure to books, pupils’ reading skills (at their grade level) have improved by an amazing 61%!

“The way they were reading before and the way they are reading now is quite different. They can pronounce the words now.”

– Abu Koroma, Teacher, St Michael’s Primary, Kissy.

Engrossed in books
Pupils’ reading skills have greatly improved

“When I am grown up I will remember those books because they helped me a lot. Some English I don’t even know and when I read that book it enables me to know them.”

– Angella, 10, Practising Primary School, Makeni.

The books are also fueling a growing inquisitiveness even outside the classroom:

“There’s a book called Bird Spotter that has encouraged them to find birds. They have put water and seeds in their back yard, because they have seen a little boy in the book doing that. It’s very interesting.”

– Mohamed M. Bangura, Teacher, Ansarul Islamic Primary School, Bo.

“There is a boy who by himself goes out and reads information. Then he comes and tells us the information in assembly. Around the town and the school. We have a ‘Minister of Information’!”

– Abdul Francis Conteh, Head Teacher, St Francis Primary School, Makeni.

Phase one of Inspiring Readers Sierra Leone is generously supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. We would like to thank them for their ongoing support.

Choosing books in Roman Catholic Primary School, Segbweme

Inspiring Readers Sierra Leone phase one report

Between April 2018 and January 2019, we worked in partnership with the Sierra Leone Library Board (SLLB) to launch the first phase of our Inspiring Readers programme in schools in Sierra Leone.

Five SLLB libraries and 25 schools took part and in January 2019 the first phase of the programme came to an end. This report presents the key outcomes and findings from this first phase.

About Inspiring Readers

Inspiring Readers aims to increase opportunities for primary school children to read by bringing brand new books into the classrooms of under resourced schools.

Each participating school receives over 1,000 brand new books, including locally published titles and a cupboard to store them in. School staff also participate in training in library management and bringing books to life in the classroom. In addition, each school is linked to its local library which already has a Children’s Corner. The libraries act as hubs, providing teachers with additional support, extra books and the expertise of a professional librarian.

So far, the programme has launched in Cameroon, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Zanzibar and Zimbabwe. We hope to reach 250,000 primary school children across Africa through the programme by 2020. You learn more about Inspiring Readers here.

Key findings

  • Increase in book borrowing

94% of pupils are now borrowing books from school to read at home, compared to only 49% before the project began.

  • Improvement in pupils’ reading skills

Teachers report a 61% increase in pupils’ ability to read at the level expected by the curriculum.

  • Pupils are developing a reading habit and this is increasing their confidence in the classroom

Not only are pupils’ literacy skills improving as a result of increased access to books but teachers also report an increase in confidence among pupils in participation in lessons and interest in learning.

Phase one of Inspiring Readers Sierra Leone is generously supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. We would like to thank them for their ongoing support.

Teaching the nurses of tomorrow

Sierra Leone’s eleven-year civil war severely affected the country’s healthcare. Much infrastructure was destroyed and many staff fled for their lives. Ebola then claimed the lives of 10% of the country’s healthcare workers.

Institutions like Nixon Memorial Hospital in eastern Sierra Leone and its nursing school were left struggling and threatened with closure. Yet the school once produced over 75% of nurses for the entire eastern region of the country – an area covering over 15,000 square kilometres with a population of over 1.5 million people.

Tutors like Solomon are passionate about raising up the next generation of healthcare professionals in Sierra Leone and is using books you help to send to support his vital work.

Solomon
Solomon

Our challenge was shortage of books. You cannot continue with archaic books that have been written 10 or 15 years ago – other developments have been found.

But I am very happy – last year Practical Tools Initiative (PTI) gave us books from Book Aid International. Now we have up-to-date books – books on anatomy and physiology, books on surgery, midwifery, paediatrics, microbiology. You name them, we have them! Marvellous books. And we are really making good use of them.

Solomon reading
Solomon is using Mims’ Medical Microbiology to help him prepare his lectures

For the past week I have been reading the Mims’ Medical Microbiology which is my specialty. I love this book so much because it is up to date. It has really helped me to make my notes and to impart knowledge onto the students.

The books have given us a positive change.

They have opened the way for research. Now, if the students were to do research on a topic or any tropical disease, any operation or nursing care, then they can go in there [to the library] and study.

 

Reading in the library
Student pass rates have increased thanks to the donated books

 

Since we have started using these books, our results have really improved. Two years ago, some of our students did not achieve the minimum overall pass mark.

But the group last year, because of the existence of this library and the Book Aid International books all 92 students passed their state final examinations.

And I am also hoping that come this November, the next group of students will also pass with flying colours.

 

Midwifery students
Solomon hopes that this year’s students will pass with flying colours

 

We are living in one the poorest [districts] in the country. There are many people living in the rural areas who have problems with disease, more than people who are living in urban areas. Yet urban areas are served with so many doctors and nurses whereas rural areas have few. Like in this hospital, we only have one doctor who works around the clock.

So the only way to help us is books.

Without books, you cannot learn. And if you don’t learn, you cannot help your community.

 

Betty
The books in the library are also used by medical staff in the adjoining Nixon Memorial Hospital

 

These books aren’t only for tutors and students, they are for everybody. The healthcare workers in the hospital that this school is attached to are using them too. Even the people who are training in Freetown, we tell them we have lots of books. So if they don’t have books, about particular surgery, they will come here and it will be an immense help for them.

 

On the ward
Donated books are enabling the nursing school to apply for accreditation to run a higher level nursing course

 

In the future, we are planning to run the higher course of state registered nursing and midwifery here. The books are one of the things that will allow us to do this – staff and students having access to a range of up-to-date information is one of the criteria that we have to meet to run a higher course.

We are very very thankful to Practical Tools Initiative for opening this link between us and Book Aid International so that more books will be brought to us, and hopefully we are going to do the higher course shortly.

 

We would like to thank our partner Practical Tools Initiative who ensure the books you help to send reach the healthcare professionals, hospitals and medical training institutions that need them most.

Betty Balon

“We want to save more lives!”

In Sierra Leone, access to safe healthcare is not easy. Much of the country’s healthcare infrastructure was destroyed during the civil war in 1991-2002 and 10% of healthcare workers died during the Ebola crisis of 2014-16. Services are stretched and practitioners often do not have the tools or information they need. The impact on children and mothers is particularly devastating. Ten women die giving birth every day.

Midwife Betty and her colleagues at Nixon Memorial Hospital are using books you help to send to care for expectant mothers, teach them how to look after their new-borns and save more mothers’ lives. Here Betty tells us more.

 

Betty uses donated books to develop her knowledge.

Healthcare for mothers is so difficult. Awareness [among mothers] is low. When they are doing a lot of breast feeding, they should eat a lot. But some mothers don’t even drink water, except when they have food to eat. Some come to the hospital with bleeding or obstructed labour.

So I come to the library to know more – to read about general nursing, paediatrics, expectant mothers. The books help us a lot.

Maternity ward
Donated books are giving Betty and her colleagues the information they need to handle any challenges they face on the ward.

Before [we got the books], it was so difficult. We didn’t have more books or money to purchase them. So there was no wide knowledge. Because if you are not reading, you have no knowledge.

But with the help of these books from Book Aid International, we have wider knowledge of how to take care of pregnant mothers and their children.

I come to the library twice a week. I read Foundations of Nursing – it covers everything.

On the ward
Betty saved the lives of three mothers after reading about a procedure to stop bleeding in mothers who have just given birth.

I read about what to do when a woman [who has just given birth] is bleeding. The books taught me about a procedure called balloon tamponade. I remember one morning I applied it to a woman and it stopped the bleeding immediately. I then applied it to three mothers – all of them survived and so did their babies.

[The books] help me, they help Nixon, they help the community at large.

Doing a ward round
Betty and her colleagues now want to expand their library so they can save more lives.

Now we have more awareness, we impart it into the communities. As we read here, we then go to them and explain everything and sensitise them that they should be coming to the hospital. This is the place of solving their problems.

Now we want to extend our library. We want to save more lives.

We would like to thank our partner Practical Tools Initiative who ensure the books you help to send reach the healthcare professionals, hospitals and medical training institutions that need them most.

Midwife and baby

Sending books and saving lives

Sierra Leone has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world. Healthcare practitioners like Dr Joan Shepherd and her team at the National School of Midwifery in Freetown are working hard to change that.

Here Dr Joan explains how books you help to send are educating midwives, saving mothers and giving new-borns a healthy start to life.

Dr Joan
Dr Joan uses books you help to send to teach midwives about safe labour practises

Our country has suffered many crises like the civil war, Ebola outbreak and a devastating mudslide. These events killed thousands – including many healthcare workers – and damaged the healthcare infrastructure.

Today, we have the highest maternal mortality rate in the world – 1,165 mothers die per 100,000 births. We are not proud of that statistic but we are working hard to change it.

Midwifery students
Having access to books enables student and professional midwives to stay up-to-date

Institutions like ours are training midwives who are saving pregnant women and caring for new mothers and newborn babies. Training midwives about safe labour will help reduce the maternal mortality rate. And midwives imparting knowledge to new mothers will help reduce the chances of their new babies becoming ill.

Our weapon is books. When a midwife uses books and puts the knowledge into practice, it’s life-saving.

If a midwife is in difficulties – let’s say they have a very difficult delivery – they consult the books.

When we are armed with knowledge, we are powerful. When dealing with childbirth, we don’t want women or babies to die. We need to have the knowledge and the skills to save lives.

Reading in the library
Books you help to send enable midwives and students prepare well for any challenges they may face

That’s why we were so excited when we received brand new medical books. Our midwives now have access to modern textbooks featuring new developments in treatments to help them prepare to face any challenges on the ward.

These books have strengthened our midwifery school and many more institutions like ours which have also received books from Book Aid International.

The end beneficiaries are the pregnant women, new mothers and newborns receiving safe care.

We are not there yet, in terms of reducing the maternal and infant mortality rates, but we are working on it – and we always need more books! Medical books are constantly being updated with the latest developments so they are always needed.

I’d like to say a big thank you to you and all those who support Book Aid International.

Your donations are invaluable – they impact positively on the lives of those who use the books and we promise that we will make good use of them.

 

We would like to thank our partner Practical Tools Initiative who ensure the books you help to send reach the healthcare professionals, hospitals and medical training institutions that need them most.

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.

Banner
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.

 

Cameroon

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.

 

Zimbabwe

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

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.

 

Ethiopia

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

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

 

Speeches

 

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.

Eritrea

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.

 

Rwanda

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.