New Library in Wekin, Ethiopia Has Minnesota Roots

Minnesotans Wyn and Sunny Ray share a deep connection with Ethiopia. In 1974 Sunny worked as a famine relief volunteer in the remote village of Wekin, Ethiopia;  in 2008, the couple returned to the community and found them struggling with water and infrastructure challenges. In addition to these pressing issues, an area of particular concern for the village was the school “library,” which contained only about 50 English books.  In 2013, the Wekin Book Project was born to help put high-quality books and learning materials in the hands of local students and the community. The Rays' personal contributions, along with generous support from friends, family, local libraries (and even a book drive at church!) netted tens of thousands of books.  These groups also raised funds to cover customs costs to enter Ethiopia,  trucking expenses from the port, through the capital, to Wekin, and funded the construction of a cement pad for the new library.

BFA staff helped the Rays secure and purchase a nearly new cargo container that stayed at the delivery site. Upon the arrival of the cargo container, it was discovered that the weight was too much for unloading it off the truck. Local residents volunteered and unloaded the container. The government helped locate a small crane to unload the empty container.  Then all the books were then reloaded by hand until facilities were ready to accept them.  

The Rays arrived in Wekin a few weeks later to celebrate the groundbreaking for the new library building.  Attending the ceremony were 3,000 villagers from the local community, as well as His Excellency, Ato Aleleegn Mulalen, North Gondar Zone, Chief Administrator (the highest ranking official in Gondar Province).

Everyone had gathered to celebrate the delivery of books for this remote village and the surrounding region (the official was previously unaware that the tiny village of Wekin even existed!). In addition to the new library, the village mayor was able to petition the official to secure a transformer, providing the village with a reliable source of electricity; this serendipitous connection made this already exciting project even better!

"We have secured more than 20,000 books for these remote schools. It is historical. Thank you for all your unreserved efforts."  

-Garedew Assefa, New Covenant Foundation Ethiopia Director, addressing the gathered community and project supporters in Wekin, Ethiopia

Learn more about the Rays and their connection to Wekin: