Volunteers are essential to the work of Book Aid International. Each week tens of volunteers give their time and energy to support our work. From picking and packing books in our warehouse to fundraising and raising awareness about our work in their local communities and work places. Thanks to their support, we were able to send over one million books to our partners in 2016.
We caught up with the newest volunteer to join the team, Portia, to find out what inspires her to support our work.
Welcome, Portia, great to have you on board! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Thanks! I am a 22-year-old student currently spending the summer back at home in London, before embarking on the final year of my French degree at the University of St Andrews.
Are you a book lover?
I would say that being a book lover is one of my defining characteristics! After not having a television at home until the age of 13, I was raised with books being regarded as a very important source of both entertainment and education. Even my fascination with languages is no doubt inspired by my parents reading side-by-side bilingual books to me as a young child.
What is your favourite book and why?
The question all book lovers dread! At the risk of sounding cliché, Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s Le Petit Prince still remains magical to me, as it can be read in an entirely different light at all stages of life. My reaction to the ending, for example, has noticeably altered as I have transitioned from naïve child to a more cynical adult! However, the allegory aims to teach several essential life lessons to the reader about love, friendship and altruism that continue to ring true.
How did you find out about the work of Book Aid International?
I was fundraising at university for The Girl Effect – an organisation working to empower young girls and disrupt the cycle of poverty through improving their skills, ideas and knowledge. A fellow student attending one of our events suggested that I should also look into the work of Book Aid International.
What made you decide to become a volunteer for Book Aid International?
Choosing to dedicate at least one day a week contributing what I can to support Book Aid International was a quick and easy decision to reach. I found myself inspired by the work done by the organisation to support and equip libraries and librarians in Africa. I also share Book Aid International’s belief that books have the power to change lives.
How long have you been volunteering for Book Aid International?
I’m still very much a fresh face – I will have been volunteering for 3 weeks this week!
What do you do when volunteering at Book Aid International?
As a warehouse volunteer, I mainly shelve, stamp and pack the books generously donated by publishers in order to send them to libraries in sub-Saharan Africa. I am also planning on running a 10k race to raise money for the charity.
What does it mean to you to volunteer with Book Aid International?
Volunteering at Book Aid International allows me to very happily surround myself with books all day! It also enables me to meet other volunteers and employees, who are always open to discussing mutual literary and charitable interests over coffee, or indeed update me about the progress facilitated by Book Aid International, which they have witnessed during a recent trip to Africa. Learning more about the charity sector, as well as being rewarded with the knowledge that we are utilising the resources we have to actively make a positive difference in people’s lives are another two of my favourite parts of volunteering.
We’d like to say a huge thank you to all our dedicated and passionate volunteers. We really couldn’t do what we do without you!
If you’d like to use your time and skills to support our work, take a look at the links below to find out how you can get involved.