Tag Archives: South Sudan

Mayol and Salid

Mayol’s story

Mayol, 22, fled his village in South Sudan in 2013 to escape civil war. He now lives in Kakuma Refugee Camp in northern Kenya, one of the largest refugee camps in the world.

Mayol attends Kakuma Secondary School where, together with a friend, he runs the school library, filled with books from Book Aid International. As a refugee, Mayol cannot attend school outside the camp or move beyond the immediate town of Kakuma so his opportunities are limited. He sees education and books as a means to change his life for the better and one day return to South Sudan. This is his story:

 

Mayol
Mayol

 

“I was born in South Sudan in 1995, but there was a war in 2005 and my father was killed. After that, I lived with my mother but in March 2013, war arrived again in our village at night. We heard the sound of the bullets buzzing around people and killing was everywhere. So I ran away and my mum ran too.

I spent two days walking in the forest alone. I met a Sudanese soldier and he said ‘Where are you going?’ and I said ‘I don’t know where I am going. I just ran and lost my mum.’ So he took me to the UN and they brought me here, to Kakuma Refugee Camp. Now I am a refugee.  Up to now, my mum doesn’t know where I am. I don’t know, maybe she was killed. She was running with the small kids – but I don’t know what happened to them.

 

A typical street in Kakuma

 

The life here in Kakuma is very hard – the camp is very overpopulated and we only receive three kilos of rations a month, but we just remain here in the camp because we have nowhere to go and we have no right to move away. We appreciate the UN agency because it has protected our lives. If it was not there, maybe we could have been killed. So because of this kindness we are here.

 

Kakuma Secondary School
Mayol (left) and Salid (right) outside their school

 

But I do not have very many opportunities unless I do my best, finish school and perform very well – that’s when you find a job and you earn your living yourself.  Here in the camp there are so many challenges that are facing us – especially on the topic of the books. One textbook is given to 10 students – and my school is comprised of 3,000 students.

 

Mayol and Salid
Salid (left) and Mayol (right) look through books outside their school library

 

Myself and my friend Salid have been selected to be in charge of the library here at our school. The library is too small for all the pupils to use the books at one time, so we give out the books and after one week we collect them and give them to another class. The books that we have in the library – they’re good but we need more! Especially revision books and commercial books so that you can make a business – and novels! There are only a few and when we give them out, they are not enough, they are so useful to have. To learn English, students need to read enough books – a lot of novels. So that when he reads novels widely, he can improve his English grammar – things will be simple.

 

Reading outside the library
Studying outside with library books

 

If we don’t have books in school it will bring challenges. Some of the books, like novels, give us the knowledge to improve our English, while others – such as the revision books – give us a guideline to understand things easily. Therefore when we don’t have such books, it brings weakness to ourselves. If we end up with a poor grade it will affect us for the rest of our lives. Wherever you go, you will not get a job because you have weak grades. You will never work in the office. When you have enough revision books and novels, you can at least try your best to utilise them so you can perform well in all your subjects.

The thing that makes me stay here and keep going is that I believe in myself. If God keeps me alive I can study well and do the best that I can to change my life. Now I have the opportunity to study for free, so I need to utilise this chance that God gave me so that I can change this life and so that when I go back to Sudan, I can bring peace. I must work hard so that I can fulfil that promise that I made to Sudan.”

We are proud to have provided many of the books that fill Mayol’s school library with the support of People’s Postcode Lottery. We thank players for their ongoing support in helping us reach people with the books they need to change their lives. 

 

Mayol and Salid

Remembering our Patron – using books to get back home

His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh was our Patron for 55 years. He was a great reader who believed in the power of books, so this week we are remembering him by sharing stories of people who used books to change their lives.

Mayol, 22, fled his village in South Sudan in 2013 to escape civil war. He now lives in Kakuma Refugee Camp in northern Kenya, one of the largest refugee camps in the world. He attends Kakuma Secondary School where, together with a friend, he runs the school library, filled with books from Book Aid International. Mayol sees education and books as a means to change his life for the better and one day return to South Sudan. This is his story:

 

Mayol
Mayol

 

“I was born in South Sudan in 1995, but there was a war in 2005 and my father was killed. After that, I lived with my mother but in March 2013, war arrived again in our village at night. We heard the sound of the bullets buzzing around people and killing was everywhere. So I ran away and my mum ran too.

I spent two days walking in the forest alone. I met a Sudanese soldier and he said ‘Where are you going?’ and I said ‘I don’t know where I am going. I just ran and lost my mum.’ So he took me to the UN and they brought me here, to Kakuma Refugee Camp. Now I am a refugee.  Up to now, my mum doesn’t know where I am. I don’t know, maybe she was killed. She was running with the small kids – but I don’t know what happened to them.

 

A typical street in Kakuma

 

The life here in Kakuma is very hard – the camp is very overpopulated and we only receive three kilos of rations a month, but we just remain here in the camp because we have nowhere to go and we have no right to move away. We appreciate the UN agency because it has protected our lives. If it was not there, maybe we could have been killed. So because of this kindness we are here.

 

Kakuma Secondary School
Mayol (left) and Salid (right) outside their school

 

But I do not have very many opportunities unless I do my best, finish school and perform very well – that’s when you find a job and you earn your living yourself.  Here in the camp there are so many challenges that are facing us – especially on the topic of the books. One textbook is given to 10 students – and my school is comprised of 3,000 students.

 

Mayol and Salid
Salid (left) and Mayol (right) look through books outside their school library

 

Myself and my friend Salid have been selected to be in charge of the library here at our school. The library is too small for all the pupils to use the books at one time, so we give out the books and after one week we collect them and give them to another class. The books that we have in the library – they’re good but we need more! Especially revision books and commercial books so that you can make a business – and novels! There are only a few and when we give them out, they are not enough, they are so useful to have. To learn English, students need to read enough books – a lot of novels. So that when he reads novels widely, he can improve his English grammar – things will be simple.

 

Reading outside the library
Studying outside with library books

 

If we don’t have books in school it will bring challenges. Some of the books, like novels, give us the knowledge to improve our English, while others – such as the revision books – give us a guideline to understand things easily. Therefore when we don’t have such books, it brings weakness to ourselves. If we end up with a poor grade it will affect us for the rest of our lives. Wherever you go, you will not get a job because you have weak grades. You will never work in the office. When you have enough revision books and novels, you can at least try your best to utilise them so you can perform well in all your subjects.

The thing that makes me stay here and keep going is that I believe in myself.

If God keeps me alive I can study well and do the best that I can to change my life. Now I have the opportunity to study for free, so I need to utilise this chance that God gave me so that I can change this life and so that when I go back to Sudan, I can bring peace. I must work hard so that I can fulfil that promise that I made to Sudan.

We are proud to have provided many of the books that fill Mayol’s school library via our partner Windle Trust Kenya. We believe that everyone should have access to books that will enrich, improve and change their lives, whatever their circumstances. 

 

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.

Lessons under trees in South Sudan

Books helping girls succeed in South Sudan

South Sudan has the highest rate of female illiteracy in the world. According to our partner Africa Educational Trust, a girl in South Sudan is three times more likely to die in childbirth than to finish her primary education. An ongoing conflict means that South Sudan has fewer female children in education than any other country, with only 34% of girls attending primary and just 3% attending secondary school.

We have been working with our partners in South Sudan to get brand new books to readers there since the country gained independence in 2011 and are proud to support schools like Ibba Girls’ School. We asked a few of their pupils to share their experience of how books can help women and girls like them in South Sudan.

Ibba Girls School pupils
L-R: Doris, Jenty, Jackline, Esther, Mboriidie Suzan

 

 Reading books helped me to know more about the importance of education and have a positive attitude towards school,

says Mboriidie Suzan.

“I read about girls who read and completed their studies and became achievers in their country. A girl who goes to school and reads books gets employed and helps her family.”

 

Mobile library
A mobile library run by our partner Africa Educational Trust

 

Doris agrees:

“A girl who goes to school and reads about the achievement of other educated girls and women gets motivated to continue with her studies.”

Reading books helps girls to recognise that all girls and boys are equal.

“This has helped us to know that girls must also take education seriously just as the boys do. Girls have equal ability to perform well in both classroom work and sports activities just as the boys do.”

 

Pupils gather outside a classroom
Pupils gather outside a classroom

 

Jenty adds:

Reading books widens my knowledge.

“I learn many skills; speaking, learning new information, writing and listening. Girls who go to school and read lots of books are exposed to knowledge and skills that could take them to many places around the world.”

But for the girls, education and books don’t just help them pursue a better future; reading and literacy are key to healthcare, as Esther explains:

Reading books on hygiene has helped me to prevent myself from getting diseases such as malaria, typhoid, yellow fever, cholera and meningitis.

 

Adult learners
Our partners also use the books you help to send to support adult learners

 

Jackline continues:

“When a girl develops life skills through reading, she can deliver services like giving First Aid when an accident occurs, when a snake bites or an insect stings.”

Mboriidie Suzan agrees:

An educated girl or woman who reads would also learn how to take care of her children and prevent them from getting diseases.”

Books are also helping the girls to develop more general life skills. Esther is now able to care better for animals:

Reading books on animals has made me understand more about caring for animals.

“Now I can take care of them. For example; through books I can remove ticks from their bodies, I have learnt how to feed animals and also learnt basic procedures to treat animals with medicine when they are sick.”

 

Outside a school
Pupils gather under the trees for lessons

 

Mboriidie Suzan adds

“Through reading, an girl or woman improves her living standards by learning about modern ways of life such as the ability to communicate on phones, or use the internet.”

Summing up the value of books and education, Mboriidie Suzan says:

Such a girl who goes to school and reads books will always build self-confidence with positive behaviour to succeed.

About South Sudan

South Sudan is the world’s newest country and gained independence from Sudan in 2011, following Africa’s longest-running civil war. However, independence did not bring conflict in South Sudan to an end. The 2013-2015 civil war displaced 2.2 million people and although a peace deal was signed in 2015, the conflict continues.

 

Lagam library Kenya

Our top 10 highlights from 2017

Thanks to your support we achieved so much in 2017!

With your help, our books reached readers in TWENTY countries, over 88,000 primary school children are enjoying new books in school thanks to our Inspiring Readers programme, more than 5,000 books reached displaced people in Greece and much more besides.

We couldn’t have done it without you.

Take a look at the ten short clips below for more of our 2017 highlights.

 

Highlight 10

60-year-old Florence in Kenya joined an adult education class and using the books you helped to send, learned to read for the very first time.

Highlight 9

Schools and libraries in the Occupied Palestinian Territories received twice as many books.

Highlight 8

Our amazing donors smashed our Open Doors Children’s Corners appeal’s £600,000 target, giving thousands of children in seven countries vibrant reading spaces to discover books.

Highlight 7

30,000 brand new books reached readers in Rwanda.

Highlight 6

3,806 books were shipped to the world’s youngest nation, South Sudan.

Highlight 5

5,541 books reached displaced people in Greece.

Highlight 4

Books you helped to send are now filling a library in rural Uganda where they are helping children develop a love of reading and farmers to cope with the effects of climate change.

Highlight 3

88,903 primary school children in Cameroon, Kenya and Malawi now have brand new books in their classrooms thanks to our Inspiring Readers programme.

Highlight 2

Children in Nairobi’s slums are now enjoying Book Havens in three local libraries.

Highlight 1

Thanks to your support, we sent books to 20 countries, which will reach over 20 million readers!

Thank you for your support in 2017. Here’s to getting even more books to the people who need them the most in 2018!

For more information about the work you supported in 2017, take a look at the links below.

 

Pupils at Korieama Primary School

2017 year in review: 20 countries in just twelve months

As 2017 draws to a close, we are looking back over the last twelve months and forward to 2018. In this blog, our Chief Executive Alison Tweed reflects on the highlights from 2017 and gives us a preview of the year ahead.

This has been a year of change for our team at Book Aid International as we focused on putting our Vision 2020: Where Books Change Lives strategy into action. Launched in March, our new strategy commits us to ensuring that the books we send reach those who face the greatest barriers to accessing books.

 

Boys reading
Two friends share a book at Battir Library in the West Bank

 

To begin making that vision a reality, we focused on establishing partnerships in new countries where people lack the books they need, as well as continuing to support all our more longstanding library and education partnerships.

The books we provided reached people in some of the most difficult to reach places in the world who are determined to keep reading in the face of instability and uncertainty about the future. We sent books to universities in Somalia, to transit camps in Greece, to schools for Syrian refugees in Lebanon and to the world’s youngest nation which continues to be gripped by conflict, South Sudan.

 

Pacifique leads a reading activity
Taking part in a reading activity at Esperance Community Centre’s library in Rwanda

 

We also doubled the number of books provided to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, sent books to the Caribbean island of Antigua to support people displaced from Barbuda and Dominica by Hurricane Irma and began sending books to Liberia, Rwanda, Ghana and The Gambia.

Inspiring Readers, Book Havens and more

In March of this year our flagship Inspiring Readers programme won the prestigious 2017 London Book Fair International Excellence Award in the category of Educational Initiatives. It was a fantastic boost for the programme which aims to bring books into the classrooms of 250,000 African primary school pupils by 2020.

 

Moi Primary readers
Pupils enjoy reading in class at Inspiring Readers school Moi Primary in Kenya

 

In 2017, we continued to expand the programme and today almost 89,000 pupils in Kenya, Cameroon and Malawi have books in their classrooms and trained teachers to help them discover how reading supports their learning.

Highlights of the year for me also included:

 

  • Helping reading and learning to flourish in Nairobi’s Mathare slum through our Book Havens project

 

Jason
Young reader Jason shows us his favourite place to read in his new Book Haven

 

  • Giving secondary school pupils in Zambia new resources to study and succeed in their exams by creating Study Hubs

 

Secondary school pupils using their study hub in Zambia
Secondary school pupils using books in their Study Hub at Choma Library

 

 

The people we reached

When I look back on 2017, more than anything I will remember the people who told us how the books we send are helping them to change their own lives.

I was particularly inspired by the words of 17 year old Lydia in Uganda who reminds us how determined people around the world are to read:

My dad always says ‘You shouldn’t go there, collecting books from there. Those books don’t help you.’ He doesn’t know how they help me. But my mum knows. She helps me go out to the library and get the books. I have already read all the fiction in the library – there are not enough now! We need more so we can keep learning. For me, I am going to be a writer, so I must keep reading!

[read more]

Lydia is just one of the estimated 24 million people who read the books we provide in any one year. We could not reach a single one of those readers without the new books that are so generously donated by publishers, the funds we receive from individuals, trusts and companies and the hard work of our volunteers. We would like to extend a very warm thank you to all of our supporters for all that you do.

Looking forward to 2018

In 2017 we sent over 930,000 books to a wide range of new and established partners.

In 2018 we are aiming to send up to 1.2 million books and we are expanding our warehouse operations in Camberwell to help us do just that.

 

Loading a shipment
Loading a shipment at our warehouse in London

 

We will also continue to implement our Inspiring Readers, Book Havens and Study Hub projects and we are currently exploring the next steps for our work providing e-books alongside print books for children.

We are very much looking forward to a year of new partnerships and new opportunities to reach those who need books most and we hope that you will join us as we continue to work toward a world where everyone has access to books that will enrich, improve and change their lives.