A Christmassy Book of the Month for December!

Bloomsbury Publishing donates Santa's SleighDecember 2014 Book of the Month is a charming seasonal treat, Santa’s Sleigh: A Fun Christmas Counting Book, from Bloomsbury Publishing.

Bloomsbury is one of our most valued publisher donors, having donated over 38,000 books this year alone, including 1,000 copies of this delightful children’s counting book. As well as enjoying a brightly illustrated story about Santa and his helpers, children can count his reindeer by rolling a little wheel at the side of the page and seeing them gallop across the top.

200 copies have just been despatched on our last shipment of the year, to the Tanzania Library Services Board for distribution to schools, public and community libraries. Many more will be distributed across sub-Saharan Africa in the coming months.

Happy Christmas from Book Aid International!

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Recording our BBC Radio 4 appeal

On 12th December, we had the great pleasure of visiting the BBC studios to record our BBC Radio 4 appeal with Jonathan Dimbleby. Our new Head of Communications, Jessica Faulkner writes:

We were absolutely delighted when Jonathan Dimbleby agreed to be the voice of our BBC Radio 4 appeal, which will air on 18th and 22nd January 2015. Having worked in Africa for over 40 years, and having seen the impact of our work first-hand, we knew Jonathan was the perfect fit for us.

Jonathan Dimbleby in Kenya

Jonathan Dimbleby in Kenya

So with some excitement, Malin Rosenkvist (our Major Donor Fundraiser) and I headed off to the BBC’s Old Broadcasting House to meet Jonathan and to record our appeal.

It was nothing but a pleasure to meet Jonathan, who is not only an incredibly talented broadcaster (recording done in one take!) but also clearly passionate about the work that we do. In fact, he recorded his own view on why it’s so important that individuals and communities have access to books and libraries. You can hear this audio clip by clicking on the link below:

Book Aid Audio Boo

What really struck me was Jonathan’s obvious passion for Africa and his belief in the power of books and reading. He describes books as the keys which “open people’s eyes to the world” and he believes that books are a key resource “for the people who are going to make Africa’s future.”

Jonathan in studio

Jonathan recording the Book Aid International Radio 4 appeal at the BBC.

We were done at the BBC in under an hour (that’s professional broadcasting for you!) but Malin had just about enough time to get a snap with Jonathan before we left. It was an inspiring day, and we can’t wait to hear the final recording in January.

Jonathan with Malin

Jonathan Dimbleby with Malin Rosenkvist, Book Aid Interational’s Major Donor Fundraiser

The appeal will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 07:55 and 21:25 GMT on Sunday 18th January and again on Thursday 22nd January at 15:25 GMT. We do hope that you will tune in and let your friends and family know.

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My Trip to Cameroon with Book Aid International

Robert Norton, Manager of Drug Product Data at Elsevier, a health, science, technology and higher education publisher, tells us about his recent trip to Cameroon to see Book Aid International’s work first-hand.

Some of the Elsevier team with the Head Librarian at Limbe City Council, Andrew Nyenti and Emmanuel Sanyi from Education Information Services International (EISERVI) and Malin Rosenkvist from Book Aid International

Some of the Elsevier team with the Head Librarian at Limbe City Council, Andrew Nyenti and Emmanuel Sanyi from Education Information Services International (EISERVI) and Malin Rosenkvist from Book Aid International

“Earlier this year, I was fortunate enough to be one of just eight people from Elsevier offices around the world honoured by the company’s “Recognizing Those Who Care Awards”. This is an annual award given to colleagues who have made substantial contributions to their local communities. As a mark of our achievements, we were given the opportunity to travel to Cameroon in West Africa to work with Book Aid International, a charity that Elsevier has donated approximately 20,000 medical books a year to since 2004. The purpose of our trip was to visit schools and libraries where Elsevier books and money have gone, and to help to create a Children’s Corner at one library.

This was something that the eight participants will never have the opportunity to do again, and it is a trip that we will never forget: we got to meet and work with teachers, librarians, and children. We truly got back way more than we gave.

Limbe City Library before the Children's Corner refurbishment

Limbe City Library before the Children’s Corner refurbishment

The highlight of the trip was opening Book Aid International’s very first Children’s Corner in Cameroon in the Limbe City Council Library. A Children’s Corner is a dedicated section of the library especially for kids. My colleagues and I helped paint and redecorate the space and we also stacked 2,500 brand new children’s books into this special new area. Hundreds of kids (and adults) were on hand for the opening ceremony, and the response was tremendous – it was even featured on national news! The smiles on the children’s faces were a great reward for all of the work that went into this effort.

Limbe City Council Library Children's Corner after refurbishment

Limbe City Council Library Children’s Corner after refurbishment

We also visited the Centre International de Référence Chantal Biya (CIRCB) in Yaounde, an HIV/AIDS information hub that consists of a library and research labs. In 2009, the Elsevier Foundation donated $100,000 to CIRCB to help develop this facility in Cameroon and Book Aid International regularly donates books from Elsevier and other publishers to the library. It was great to meet the staff at CIRCB and see how much progress they are making in their fight against HIV and AIDS.

Dr Godwin Nchinda, the Deputy Director of CIRCB and Andrew Nyenti of Education Information Services International (EISERVI) with a group of PhD students at CIRCB

Dr Godwin Nchinda, the Deputy Director of CIRCB and Andrew Nyenti of Education Information Services International (EISERVI) with a group of PhD students at CIRCB

Helping to transform the Children’s Corner and seeing Elsevier books in action brought it home to me just how important it is that people all over the world can access books and reading resources. I feel so lucky to have been a part of this trip!”

If you want to find out more about Robert’s trip to Cameroon, take a look at his online presentation here.

Posted in Blog, Cameroon, Children's Corners, Community libraries, Education, Libraries, Literacy, Schools, Uncategorized, Volunteering | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Books v Termites in Eritrea

In November, our Director Alison Hubert travelled to Eritrea to visit libraries that have benefited from the work of Book Aid International. She writes:

“Book Aid International has been working in Eritrea, sending books through the Ministry of Education, since shortly after the end of the long war with Ethiopia, in 1991.

Landscape for web

View from just outside Asmara, Eritrea

Eritrea is a little-visited, stunningly beautiful country on the Red Sea coast in north-east Africa, bordered by Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti. The long struggle for independence from Ethiopia has taken its toll on the country, but education is a priority and English is used as the medium of instruction in schools from year 5.

Eritrean landscape

View from just outside Asmara, Eritrea

Until independence, Eritrea had only one public library, 37 school libraries, and no community libraries at all. Now there are nine public libraries, 39 community libraries plus a further 22 libraries run by the National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students, over 250 junior school libraries and a library in each of the 92 secondary schools in the country. Quite an achievement in such challenging conditions!

Agada Hamus Community Library

Librarian Askalu-Tesfazion outside Adaga Hamus Community Library

I visited a range of school, public and community libraries, including the one pictured above, Adaga Hamus community library, Asmara, which is run by a female former army colonel and freedom fighter Askalu-Tesfazion, with a small but well-stocked children’s corner. As elsewhere, the community libraries are often some of the best-run and most vibrant institutions as they have a strong sense of ownership by their users. Book Aid International is particularly keen to support community library networks in all its partner countries.

Children enjoying the Children's Corner at Adaga Hamus Community Library

Children enjoying the Children’s Corner at Adaga Hamus Community Library

One school library I visited remains strongly in my mind. Massawa Secondary School serves the busy port on the Red Sea coast and has over 1000 pupils. Like all secondary schools in Eritrea it has a separate library building and was proud of the 3000 or so books in its collection. Sadly, the termites moved in . . . When termites strike they can consume a library like this, shelves and all, in 24 hours. The devastation is heart-breaking.

Massawa Secondary School Library

Librarian Zaid Gebremeskel outside Massawa Secondary School Library

Books destroyed by termites in Massawa Secondary School's library

Books destroyed by termites in Massawa Secondary School’s library

When I visited the librarian Zaid Gebremeskel was starting the daunting task of sifting through the remains of her collection and moving them to new premises. I surveyed the damage with her. Miraculously many of the books more recently supplied by Book Aid International were untouched! But you can see what fate some of the older collection suffered.

Sifting through the remaining books in Massawa Secondary School's Library

Sifting through the remaining books in Massawa Secondary School’s Library

We will be working with our partner Gebrenegus Berhane, Head of School Libraries at the Ministry of Education in Eritrea, to ensure that this school library is restocked as soon as possible so that the pupils can continue their studies with a brand new library of books from Book Aid International.”

Posted in Blog, Children's Corners, Community libraries, Education, Eritrea, Libraries, Literacy, Schools, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Uganda bound . . .

Bhav loading books onto the lorry

Bhav loading books onto the lorry

A shipment bound for Uganda, carrying a whopping 43,905 books has just left the warehouse! These books will be distributed to libraries across Uganda by our partners, Uganda Community Libraries Association and the Africa Educational Trust.

George will drive the books on the first leg of their journey

George will drive the books on the first leg of their journey

It’s about 5 degrees centigrade here at the moment (hence Harriet being so well wrapped-up below) – quite a bit colder than the heat that the books will live in before long!

Harriet wrapped up warm, presents the lorry filled with books

A quantity of these books will go to the African Prisons Project (APP). We’ve been working together to develop the library at Gulu Central Prison in northern Uganda, an area that  has the worst literacy levels in Uganda.  The local community uses the library alongside the prison population of 2,000 so the library is serving a large number of people and supporting literacy.

The well stocked shelves of Gulu Central Prison's library

The well stocked shelves of Gulu Central Prison’s library

Another partner that will receive books from the shipment is Gulu Regional Referral Hospital where we are setting up a medical library to improve access to up to date medical and health information for clinical staff. So far we have provided over 500 medical and healthcare books and direct beneficiaries of the library include approximately 170 clinical staff, who treat over 90,000 patients a year.

The space at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital that will be transformed into a medical library

The space at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital that will be transformed into a medical library

This shipment brings the total books shipped this year to 927,000. The golden one million is getting very close! http://www.bookaid.org/believer

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