Africa Trip Leads to New Librarian Training Program, Planned Shipment of Over 176,000 Books

Books For Africa Executive Director Patrick Plonski has spent the past 3 months in Africa building relationships and visiting BFA recipients.  Following a tour celebrating BFA's 30th Anniversary and a series of partner meetings in Cape Town, South Africa,  the first leg of Patrick’s journey took him to Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Kenya.  The second half of his visit included stops in Ethiopia and Seychelles, as well as attending the World Literacy Summit in Oxford, England.


Patrick Plonski met with Abraham Asha of the African UnionPatrick’s time in Ethiopia included visits to Gondar Public Library, the Axum Public Library, and Adigrat & Mekelle Public Libraries in the northern part of the country.  Patrick also spent time at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa as BFA continues to explore collaborations with the African Union, including a formalized relationship and a presentation to the diplomatic corps (especially those connected with education).  While at their headquarters Patrick met with Abraham Asha (pictured), Program Officer with the Human Resources, Science and Technology Division of the African Union.  Mr. Asha was presented with a Mobile Little Free Library, provided by BFA partner Little Free Library, as part of discussions on collaborative partnerships.

The Ethiopia trip was highlighted by the signing of a partnership agreement with long-time BFA partner the Ethiopian Knowledge and Technology Transfer Society (EKTTS).  This four-year agreement will provide mentorship and assistance for approximately 50 libraries and their staff across the country, and if successful will be expanded to other countries. Eight containers of books (approximately 176,000 books) will also be shipped to EKTTS as part of this package.

Plonski and EKTTS officials finalize the new partnership agreement


Next was a well-timed opportunity to visit Seychelles, a country that recently received its first-ever container of BFA books.  Patrick was honored to attend a book distribution ceremony at Perseverance North Primary School in Victoria is support of this project, which was sponsored by our friends at Out of Print and Merck & Co.  The success of this project was driven by our new partners in Seychelles that helped coordinate this shipment, including Green Islands Foundation and the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development.   Building new relationships such as this allows BFA projects to empower children and students that would not otherwise have an opportunity to hold a book in their hands.

Students in Seychelles enjoy reading materials from a recent BFA shipment

World Literacy Summit

Patrick’s trip concluded with a trip to the World Literacy Summit, which ran March 25-27 in Oxford, England.  This annual event is in its third year, and serves as a unique opportunity for delegates to collaborate, share ideas, learn and be united to close the global literacy gap in the 21st century. The Summit provides a platform for debate, discussion, and sharing of knowledge between some of the world’s most ardent literacy and educational leaders, institutions, organizations and pioneers.  54 countries were represented at the Summit, including diplomatic representation from 25 countries.  Books For Africa is proud to join delegates from other literacy organizations and educational institutions as part of this critical discussion.