Monday, June 25, 2012

Library Needs Our Help

I know that you are probably wondering. . . why is Sandi posting?  She said that she was taking a break for the summer.  

Well yes, I am taking a modified break, as I a truly incapable of taking a complete break.  

Recently Lesely Koyi, who was interviewed in Words From the Wise in May, contacted me about a library in Kenya that is in great need.  

As you may recall, Lesley is a librarian and poet.  He recently launched a boys lit club for his local community and they are in desperate need of books.  I interviewed Lesley a few days ago about his new project so that we all have the information that we need to help these kids have access to books.  Please read the interview below.

Hi Sandi,
Good morning from Kenya.  It's a bright morning over here, and I must say I am honored  very much to be hosted by you for another interview. I therefore wish to offer my sincere answers to the questions asked by you as follows.

1. Can you tell me about the organization that you are collecting books for?  History of the organization and where things are at right now.

The organization that I am collecting books for is called Single Mothers Association of Kenya. This organization has a community library in which, as a professional librarian, I am interested in seeing it come out from its death bed. It is not in use because it does not have books and has a number of infrastructural issues to be addressed. It is built of iron sheets and it has some parts of it exposed to the entrance of dust.  I felt as a librarian, I would use my experience and network of friends to help it grow.  First, I must state also that the main thing that made me become aware of the plight of this library is when I decided to approach the Director of the site, Mrs. Angeline Nandwa to ask her to allow me to start a Boys Litclub within the library.

The history of this organization is that Single Mothers Association of Kenya is a non-profit community based organization that was formed in 1991, and legally registered under the ministry of culture and social services. This ministry is committed to addressing major problems facing the single adolescent mothers and the vulnerable girls within the slums communities in Nairobi and other parts of the country. This they do through offering vocational training to the women, girls and boys. The training is to help them become self employed in the future.  The training is offered in tailoring and dress making, welding and fabrication, embroidery, bead and leather work, electrification skills, and also voluntary counselling and testing, and then last but not least, the community library services. The community being catered for in the projects of Single Mothers Association of Kenya is one that is riddled with drugs, crime, high level of school drop outs, unwanted pregnancies and poverty. This, therefore, makes it impossible for the majority of parents to afford the buying of books for their children as this is challenged by the need to put food on the table. It is a hustle, if not a struggle for many to gain access to the 3 basic needs--food, shelter, and clothing.  Currently, because of many financial challenges that Angeline has faced in the running of this project, the library has suffered the most with no books and dusty shelves. This is where I think and wish I can help by getting good friends who will stand with me and make the availability of books to this community and children become a reality. Knowledge is power, and that will transform this community both socially and economically.

2. How did you become involved, and what do you do?

As stated earlier, I became involved when after undergoing a facilitator training with Litworld, I was given a thumbs up to open a Boys Litclub in my community. That is when I started looking for a conducive site for boys to come and meet without disruption.  Single Mothers Association of Kenya was the best site for us, and while here, I noticed the big problem with the library section.  So currently, I am honestly looking for good people all over the world who will feel the need to donate and send over some books for this library so that it can become a vibrant hub of knowledge to the community as a whole.  I would have sat back comfortably as I have my own job where I work as a librarian, but with this library reeling to oblivion I think I cannot have my peace, and that's why I appeal for help.

3. Who are the children that you are servicing?  How many children, ages, are they in school, what are their home lives like?

The children i am servicing in my Litclub are boys but i have under way plans to include the girls and mums by getting them their own Litclubs too so that they can also get engaged in matters of literacy, i am servicing about 20 kids of between ages of 12-14 years old.Since Litworld offers a different forum from a normal school curricular this boys attend the Boys Litclub meetings on Saturday and Sunday afternoon after their normal school.As stated earlier this kids are coming out from poor family back grounds and from homes faced with a number of challenges in an environment that has lots of vices.I must state before i forget too that Litworld encourages the culture of reading and writing all over the world for kids and its upon this back drop that we are in need books down here.

4. How many books do you currently have and what are your most urgent needs in terms of type of book that you are looking for?

Currently I have very few books, and most of them not of use to these kids. These books are about 150 in number.  My most urgent needs in terms of books are books that can be of use to kids let me say all children's books, be it picture books, chapter books, fiction and all manner of story books and not forgetting academic ones if possible.

Sandi, I must say thanks very much for hosting me again for another interview and this is a sure sign that you are touched with my endeavor to enrich the kids with books. I believe  with your support this will no longer be a long journey and never will it be a far cry anymore. Please feel free to include the link to my blog so that the world can know how I feel about the development of the library in Africa and Kenya to be precise. 

As you can see by reading Lesley's responses to my questions, this is a desperate situation.  Please reach into your hearts and send some new or previously loved books to Lesley--the boys and their families need our help.

Lesley Koyi
P.O.BOX 75603-00200
Nairobi, Kenya