Tag Archives: Zimbabwe

Reading in Zimbabwe

Looking forward to reading

A shipment carrying 37,741 brand new books left the warehouse at the end of June and is on its way to Zimbabwe!

School children there love the thousands of brand new, inspiring children’s books you help to send every year but at the moment, their libraries and schools are closed due to Covid-19 and many do not have books at home.

Here, Yeukai, a university librarian and Chair of our partner the Harare Distribution Committee shares how lockdown restrictions are impacting everyday life and education in Zimbabwe – and reflects on how restrictions are also highlighting the importance of books in supporting learning.


What restrictions are being imposed on normal life to keep people safe?

Covid-19 started in Zimbabwe in March with the death of a prominent person and that scared us. So immediately the schools and the universities were closed.

I was okay initially but then I realised that it looks like this pandemic is with us for some time.

Public libraries are still closed. Schools, teacher training colleges and polytechnics are also still closed. Universities are open only for final year students.

Most of the shops are closed. And we cannot move from one city to another – there is no intercity transport so that is a major challenge.

School in Zimbabwe
Schools are currently closed in Zimbabwe

How are these restrictions impacting people’s lives?

Some people are starving. Because most of our population are in the informal sector and the informal sector is still closed, most households have nothing. And also some companies, because they are not operating 100% so they have laid off some employees.

Choosing books to read
Many children rely on their schools and local libraries for books to read

And how are the restrictions affecting children’s education in particular?

We are a poor country so schools cannot do online teaching because our children have no resources to access online. Even some of our schools they are so remote that there is no internet connectivity.

So they have introduced radio lessons for the primary schools. All children can access them. The radio lessons are for a limited time and they need to refer to books after the radio lesson – curriculum books and supplementary books. But very few families have books at home.

Most of our schools, if you see books there, they are from Book Aid International.

Most of our schools, if you see books there, they are from Book Aid International. But at the moment schools and libraries are closed and I think it means next year, most of the children will have to repeat their grades because they will not have learned as they don’t have books.

Even now they still want to use books! It’s only that we said that we are not issuing out books but they still want to use the books.

Reading together outside
Books will help children catch up when schools reopen

There’s a shipment on its way which includes thousands of children’s and primary books. How do you think these new books will help children get back to learning when schools reopen?

When they go back to school, everybody will be eager to learn and to catch up. Books will definitely help, especially in the rural areas where they have nothing.

In most of our rural areas books are the only source of information because there are no computers, there is no internet. Books are the things they will be looking forward to!

Books are the things they will be looking forward to!

We can never have enough of books. Everyone depends on print. And we do really appreciate your books in Zimbabwe. Even now during Covid, people still ask if they can get books; the children, the teachers, the librarians. So that is how important the books are to us.

Children's Corner a MYSA Library

June Book of the Month

Our latest Book of the Month is the World Psychiatric Association’s Depression and Diabetes:

Depression and DiabetesIn the medical world there is a growing awareness of the interrelationship between depression and numerous physical diseases. Depression and Diabetes is the first in a three-part series which provides an update on current evidence of these interrelationships.

It brings together current evidence, including previously unpublished data, in a concise, easy to read format. It addresses how these co-existing conditions can develop, their impact on quality of life, effective treatments and how the negative consequences of depression in diabetes could be avoided.

The book’s practical approach means it will be useful for all practitioners involved in treating these patients from diabetes specialists to general practitioners and mental health nurses.

Depression and Diabetes will soon be on its way to Zimbabwe along with over 2,000 other brand new medical books.

These books will be going to a wide range of hospitals, training colleges and universities in Zimbabwe and they will provide practitioners and students with up-to-date medical research and evidence to support high quality training and healthcare.

Children's Corner a MYSA Library

March Book of the Month

Our March Book of the Month is:

The Herd Boy
The Herd Boy by Niki Daly

This picture book follows a day in the life of Malusi, a young boy who lives in rural South Africa. He spends his days tending his grandfather’s flock; leading them out to find pasture, protecting them from danger and caring for the sick and injured.

It’s a big job for a small boy but Malusi is brave and he dreams of one day becoming the President.

While carrying an injured lamb home along the roadside, he meets an elderly man in a big car who tells him that someone who takes care of his herd would make a good leader. The man that Malusi meets is Nelson Mandela.


Meeting Nelson Mandela


Beautifully brought to life with evocative illustrations, this book will be relatable for many young readers living in rural parts of sub-Saharan Africa where children often spend their spare time helping their parents to care for their livestock. The story is told in simple prose with an underlying message that many great people have started from humble beginnings.

This book is perfect for our partners working with schools and libraries in rural communities such as Eduspots in Ghana, Educaid in Sierra Leone and RLRDP in Zimbabwe. We hope that this book will encourage the children who read it to dream big!


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.


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!


Preparing to become a lawyer through books

22-year-old Christine in Zimbabwe is in the last year of her A-levels.

She wants to study law at university and is using books you help to send to her school library to support her studies.

Christine believes books will help her reach university – and and also her future work as a lawyer. Here, she tells us more:



“I have passion about law. I realised some people are victimised for something they maybe haven’t done and I have passion about rescuing people’s lives. [I] want to stand for their rights, especially for the rights of women. That’s why I want to be a lawyer.


Christine reading


I believe that literature books help me to improve my English day by day. As a lawyer, with good English, I can check a person’s case, then study it, then analyse and see how true it is.

As a law student and lawyer, books on law will be important!

So through those books I’ll able to get information that I can use and I am able to practise my English structure, my analysis. As a law student and lawyer, books on law will also be important! For example, books that tell me about the history my country and other countries.


Christine in the library


Through books I have passed all levels and got to A-levels.

Through books I have passed all levels [of school] and got to A-levels. There are books which can still help me to get to university level. In every phase of my schooling I have used books and my English particularly is improving.

One day I hope to be a good lawyer owning a law firm.”

Goat project team

Books and goats changing lives

Many people living in the rural villages of Zimbabwe’s Gwanda region are subsistence farmers. Villagers often have little money to purchase even simple commodities for their families or clothing for their children let alone pay school fees.

Our partner Edward Ndlovu Memorial Trust is working with villagers to change that by using books you help to send to support communities’ income generation projects.

When Trena and five others joined a project in Sezhubane village and started reading books together, many things in their lives began to change. Here Trena tells us more.


Goat project group
Four of the five members of the group

Our group was a discussion group to start with. We are women, some of us widows. We are struggling together and we appreciate each other’s challenges. We all have orphans – the whole village have orphans in each home.

By reading books we came to appreciate that we could start a project. We decided to do this to help ourselves and the orphans that we keep.

Here people practise farming and people like keeping animals, particularly goats. The vegetation supports the keeping of goats. But culturally in Zimbabwe amongst village people, women do not keep animals.


Goats in pen
Group members meet on a daily basis to tend to the goats

But by reading books on rights, we discovered it is not wrong to go up against some of the traditions. So we started a goat project. And this is an example for other women; we can own animals without destroying our villages or our homes.

Each one of us contributed a goat to the group so we had five to start with. And then we asked for a loan to buy extra goats. It’s been nine years now and these goats over the years have reproduced. Now we have 27.


Goat project members
The goats provide the group with security in hard times as well as milk

Now we have something to fall back on when we have got problems, because we can even sell the goats to solve some monetary needs for ourselves. We also get milk from the goats for our tea and porridge.


Agricultural book
The group use books to help them develop their project. They hope to become more commercial.

But we are looking forward to having more goats so that we are not only selling one, but could go out and sell 20. Which means we bring in more money. We are looking at having a number of goats  – that will be beneficial to us as a form of income generation. So we are really thinking of getting into business through keeping goats.

As well as books about goat-keeping and business, we also read and discuss books on different themes.

Books on human rights, health, HIV and AIDS, gender issues, how to get birth certificates.


When the group read a book about environmental health, they decided to each build a latrine by their homes.

After reading books on environmental health we agreed as a group that each one of us must build a bathroom with a toilet next door.

We didn’t have bathrooms before. Now, outside each of our homes is a toilet. This is a big change in terms of health here.

We feel with this project we are going to be different to other women. The women who are not part of the project want to start projects. We feel we have the potential to change our lifestyles. We hope to set a precedence for how to care for orphans even if we are not formally employed.


Kenya prison

Improving prisoner education

1,460 of the brand new books you helped to send to Zimbabwe in 2018 are now being used by inmates studying in 22 prisons across the country. Their prisons offer classes at primary and secondary level to help them learn and  improve their chances of finding employment when they are released. Over 2,000 prisoners are currently attending the classes and working towards a brighter future.

Here, three people involved in prisoners’ education in Zimbabwe told us what they thought about the new books.


Kenya prison
Inmates move around a prison compound in Kenya


“Before, Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services had a critical shortage of modern textbooks,” says Kudakwashe Zvidzayi, Chief of Staff Officer for Education at Zimbabwe Prison & Correctional Services (ZPCS).

“Now, the prison libraries possess quality books and have added value to learning: inmates have good learning materials and teachers have reference books to enhance their research. The books have enhanced the quality of learning and teaching in prison schools.”

The books have enhanced the quality of learning and teaching in prison schools.

Choosing a book in a prison library
Selecting books in a prison library in Sierra Leone


Prison Education Officer Mr Philip Chikikwa says the new books have made a big difference for learners:

“[Without these books] the prisoners would have struggled to further their education.  The teaching staff would also find it difficult to widen their knowledge.”

[Without these books] the prisoners would have struggled to further their education.

“Certainly this donation of books will go a long way in meeting the demands of the New Primary and Secondary Curriculum in our thrust to enhance quality education,” says Deputy Commissioner-General Alford Mashango Dube. “Given this donation, our learners and teachers will have their reading and research needs well enriched.’’

Given this donation, our learners and teachers will have their reading and research needs well enriched.

Find out more about our work to support prisoners and how we support readers in Zimbabwe using the links below.


Mel and Anelka’s library

School friends Mel, 13 and Anelka, 12, regularly visit their Children’s Corner at Nketa Library on the outskirts of Bulawayo. Here they tell us about their Children’s Corner and their favourite books to read:


Nketa Children's Corner


What’s your Children’s Corner like?

Mel: It’s very quiet, clean. There’s fun books, we can take adventures.

Both: We come here when we get dismissed from school. About twice a week.

Anelka: In the library they can borrow us books to take home too.

Mel: Yes, so we can continue with our fun stories! We also study books because we are going to write the end of year examinations.

How do books help you with your exams?

Anelka: They help us with our English

Mel: Yes, English –  good language, you can write good letters and compositions…

Anekla: Good spelling.

Mel: And punctuation.

Mel and Desire
Mel and another library friend share a book together

What is your favourite thing to do when you visit the Children’s Corner?

Anelka: Drawing! And writing some notes.

Mel: Same: Drawing, writing some notes, reading comic books and novels.

What are your favourite books to read?

Anelka: There are many! … Story books

Mel: And fantasies.

And what would you both like to be when you grow up?

Mel: Mechanical engineer

Anelka: A pilot

Both: Books will help us get there because they teach us about electronics and stuff.


We would like to thank players of People’s Postcode Lottery who funded the creation of Nketa Library’s Children’s Corner and filled it with brand new books for children like Mel and Anelka to enjoy.

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.