Lord Paul Boateng speaks at People’s Postcode Lottery Charity Gala in Edinburgh

Book Aid International’s Chair, Lord Paul Boateng was one of the keynote speakers at People’s Postcode Lottery charity gala, held in Edinburgh on Wednesday 28th January. The gala, which was held at the Mansfield Traquair in central Edinburgh, celebrated the contribution that players of People’s Postcode Lottery have made to a range of good causes.

Lord Paul Boateng speaking at the People's Postcode Lottery gala

Lord Paul Boateng speaking at the People’s Postcode Lottery charity gala

Lord Boateng was invited to speak to represent some of the charities who have newly joined People’s Postcode Lottery’s list of supported organisations. Book Aid International was awarded £175,000 by players of People’s Postcode Lottery in November 2014. We, along with all supported charities, were also delighted to receive an extra £25,000 from players of People’s Postcode Lottery at the charity gala.

Some of the money raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery will support Book Aid International’s ‘Open Doors’ programme in Malawi, which will create Children’s Corners in five libraries in Malawi, where children can read, play and study in a safe and engaging environment. Book Aid International will provide 2,500 brand new children’s books for each Corner, as well as supporting refurbishment and training local librarians to engage with children and local schools and communities.

Lord Boateng spoke of the generosity of players of People’s Postcode Lottery (25% of every ticket purchase goes directly to good causes) and the impact that the funding would have for charities such as Book Aid International. He spoke personally about the impact of books provided by Book Aid International on his own life as a young African growing up in the Gold Coast and Ghana.

He said: “Africa today has the youngest demographic in the world. The generosity of many thousands of individual donors and volunteers who support Book Aid International and the recent funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery are literally life-transforming. These books, and the dedicated library spaces in which they will be made available, will make a significant contribution not only to individual lives but to the development of the continent itself. These young minds are Africa’s greatest asset. Books both liberate and inform. There can be no greater gift.

To date, players of People’s Postcode Lottery have raised £58.6 million for charities and good causes. The gala dinner was attended by representatives of over 50 charities.

Posted in Africa, Blog, Children's Corners, Libraries, Literacy, Malawi, Open Doors, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

January Book of the Month!

We’re delighted to introduce our Book of the Month for January :

Lugalbanda, told by Kathy Henderson and illustrated by Jane Ray

Lugalbanda, told by Kathy Henderson and illustrated by Jane Ray

Lugalbanda: The Boy Who Got Caught Up In a War, told by Kathy Henderson, illustrated by Jane Ray and published by Candlewick Press.

Illustration of the great city of Uruk where Lugalbanda lived

Illustration of the great city of Uruk where Lugalbanda lived

This gorgeously illustrated folk tale deservedly picked up the American Folkore Society’s Aesop Prize in 2007. Several copies were donated to us recently by Walker Books, a long-standing supporter of Book Aid International who regularly donate their high quality children’s books (over 10,000 donated in 2014 alone).

The terrible range of mountains that King Enmerkar and his army had to travel through

The terrible range of mountains that King Enmerkar and his army had to travel through

Lugalbanda’s story originated in Sumer (modern Iraq) more than 5,000 years ago. Lugalbanda was a historical figure, a king of Uruk, and in this story he is a brave young prince following his older brothers into battle. Lost and alone in the wilderness, he survives sickness and starvation with the help of the great Anzu bird, and returns to bring peace to both warring kingdoms with the intercession of Inana, Goddess of Love and War.

King Enmerkar gives Lugalbanda the precious standard of Uruk

King Enmerkar gives Lugalbanda the precious standard of Uruk

Jane Ray’s stunning illustrations make this ancient story leap off the page into the 21st century, where the content remains as relevant as ever. We are sending copies to Children’s Corners in public and community libraries, in places such as Uganda where many children have been forced to take up arms in brutal wars.

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First in-country donation in Kenya

Laxmi Booksellers and Stationers

Laxmi Booksellers & Stationers

James Kimani, our East Africa Representative, recently received Book Aid International’s first ever book donation from the book industry in Kenya. The donation of nearly 1,000 books was made by Laxmi Booksellers & Stationers Ltd in Nairobi and ranged from books for pre-schoolers up to the end of primary school and included maths and English aids as well as writing and reading books.

Laxmi staff load up the van with books

Laxmi staff load up the van with books

Nilesh Vekaria, Sales & Marketing Manager at Laxmi Booksellers & Stationers Ltd said

‘I had not heard of Book Aid International before we participated in Nairobi Book Fair in 2014. I attended a conference held by Book Aid International at the Fair and what I heard touched my heart. Afterwards, my colleagues and I met with Alison Hubert, Book Aid International’s Director and had a long chat. We decided that we would contribute to Book Aid International in whatever way we could – it was the least we could do.’

The van is packed up with books and ready to go!

The van is packed up with books and ready to go!

Book Aid International has subsequently donated this first consignment to the Africa Educational Trust (AET) Kenya to support their Mother Tongue Education Project in Laikipia County, Kenya. The project aims to improve the learning outcomes among the Maasai communities of this region who have largely lost their traditional pastoralist livelihood due to various pressures on their way of life, including loss of pastureland to private farms, game parks and urban areas, and still remain isolated from education and opportunity. Although the Maa speaking children from these communities are able to attend school, the language of instruction – Swahili or English – is not understood by the majority of these pupils. This lack of local language instruction and materials is a major barrier to their education.

A group of Maasai people

A group of Maasai people

The AET’s Mother Tongue Education Project seeks to address this issue by enabling Maasai children to study in their local language and also work towards fluency in spoken English which is important for life in Kenya today. There is a great need for books to facilitate the transition from mother tongue to English and the books received from Laxmi Booksellers & Stationers Ltd are the perfect fit for this project. Over the coming year, Book Aid International will provide a further 9,000 new books to support this work and training for 48 teacher librarians on basic library management and reading promotion.

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Hearing from our partners – one million books

Just after Christmas, we were absolutely delighted to announce that we had shipped one million books to sub-Saharan Africa in 2014. This is almost double our previous shipment figures, and will make a real difference to the lives of people in Africa. Our wonderful network of partners distribute the books we send to libraries in schools, communities, slums, villages, cities, refugee camps and prisons. For this post, we thought we’d hand over to some of our partner organisations on the ground to find out what a difference one million books will make for people in Africa.

Piles of books

Just a few of the one million books we shipped to Africa in 2014

Yeukai Chimuka, Chair of the Harare Distribution Committee told us: “Wherever we distribute Book Aid International Books the feedback is always amazing: reports of improved English language skills, widened knowledge and increased pass rates in schools. The beneficiaries do always appreciate and ask for more books. In some schools pupils now look forward to library periods because of the informative books from Book Aid International. None of the books we receive from Book Aid International are considered irrelevant they are all useful especially to an environment where reading materials are scarce. Thank you Book Aid for job well done in bringing books to Zimbabwe.”

Ruth Katumpa, Volunteer Teacher with Zambia Open Community Schools (ZOCS) said: “Children in our Community Schools are eager to read, thanks to Book Aid International, which has been supporting our programme with reading books.

“Children who can read show off to their friends who are at home and because of that, ZOCS has seen more children coming to school because they do not want to be left out…The parents in the area also become proud when their children are able to read.”

Children reading

Children in Zambia enjoying their books

A prisoner in Gulu Prison in Uganda has this to say: “The introduction of a library Facility at Gulu Central prison by African Prisons Project [supported by Book Aid International] has helped me improve upon my reading culture because the library has many interesting and educative reading materials. For example, I came across a book titled “My life in crime’’ which is a every educative book. Ever since I read that book my life has also changed in relation to crime because it taught me how to disassociate myself from crime and leave a better life in the community.”

Prison library

Stocked shelves in the Gulu Prison Library, Uganda

Peter Sampa, Resident Lecturer at the University of Zambia said: “What a Chrismas and New Year gift from Book Aid International. The 17 cartons of books we received just before the festive season brightened and luminated our celebrations. It is the best gift that will influence lives of many people now, and for many years to come.”

Library shelves

Books in the University of Zambia library

Ropafadzo Rutsvara, who is a Grade 6 student of Banket School in Harare, wrote to us and said: “It was really generous of you to donate these books. Before, pupils barely went to the library because the books were so few. But because of [the new books], it’s much more enjoyable to visit the library often.”

School children

School children in Zimbabwe are some of the recipients of Book Aid International books

Here at Book Aid International, we’d like to say thank you to everyone who made it possible for us to send one million books to African libraries in 2014. We couldn’t have done it without the support of our donors and funders, or the incredible books donated by publishers. But we are also hugely appreciative of the endless hard work of our partners in Africa who help to select and distribute the books we send to the libraries where they can be enjoyed by many.

Here’s to a great year in 2015!


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

Players of People’s Postcode Lottery help bring books to life for children in Africa  

Late last year, we were absolutely delighted to receive £175,000 from players of People’s Postcode Lottery. We will be putting the money towards developing Children’s Corners in libraries in Africa. These Corners provide child-friendly spaces where children can enjoy learning and reading for pleasure. The programme, called Open Doors, has already been launched in Tanzania, Uganda and Cameroon and the generous support of the players of People’s Postcode Lottery means we we will be able to continue the project in a further five Children’s Corners in Malawi in 2015.

Children's Corner, Tanzania

Children enjoying reading at the Open Doors Children’s Corner, Kibaha library, Tanzania

Last July, we showed representatives from People’s Postcode Lottery around a newly refurbished Children’s Corner in Blantyre, Malawi. While they were there, People’s Postcode Lottery made a short film about the work that we do.

You can watch People’s Postcode Lottery’s film about Book Aid International here.

Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, Clara Govier, said:

We had the privilege of being able to see Book Aid International’s work in action in Blantyre, Malawi with its partner the Malawi National Library Service. We were so struck by the enthusiasm of children for the new Children’s Corner – they really were thrilled that the library had this fabulous new space for them – a bright airy room, filled with murals, children’s furniture and of course, hundreds of brand new books from the UK – all made possible by Book Aid International. The charity’s work is so obviously practical and empowering – it really changes lives in Africa.

Book Aid boxes

Books from Book Aid International arrive at the Blantyre Library

Library staff

Malawi National Library Service staff help stock the shelves in Blantyre Library

Our Director, Alison Hubert had this to say about this new and very welcome support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery:

Book Aid International will be even more ambitious in our work to transform library services for children in sub-Saharan Africa thanks to this generous support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery. In a region where so many children live below the poverty line and literacy levels are amongst the lowest in the world this work is of vital importance to empower young people to build better futures for themselves and their communities.

Blantyre Children's Corner

Children enjoy their new library corner in Blantyre, Malawi.

A small team from Book Aid International is off to Malawi at the end of the month to embark on the next stage of the work there. We’ll be visiting libraries, meeting our partners in the Malawi National Library Service and running librarian training – so watch this space for more updates!

You can find out more about our Open Doors appeal here, which aims to open 60 Children’s Corners in African libraries by 2018.

People’s Postcode Lottery manages society lotteries on behalf of a range of charitable bodies. These lotteries support charities and good causes. Players of People’s Postcode Lottery have raised more than £58.6 Million for charity to date. You can find out more about People’s Postcode Lottery here.

Posted in Africa, Blog, Cameroon, Children's Corners, Community libraries, Education, Fundraising, Libraries, Malawi, Open Doors | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment