Back To Where It All Began

In 1988, BFA founder Tom Warth visited the town library in Jinja, Uganda. He was dismayed to see that the shelves were quite bare and in dire need of good, quality books.  As Tom tells it,

The Jinja town library as Tom saw it in 1988

“I’d met a Loy Zabasajja when she was visiting her children in the U.S. I asked if I could come visit her, and she agreed, though I’m not sure she believed I’d really show up. I like adventure, and the best places to find it are remote spots with no tourists, but where you know someone.”

Jinja, the woman’s hometown, fit that bill. Although it’s the second largest city in Uganda, it’s not on many itineraries. 

Children in Jinja digging into their recent BFA shipment

Last month, Tom returned to the Jinja Library with Executive Director Pat Plonski to celebrate the creation of BFA there 28 years ago!  BFA also worked with our Uganda partner Agnes Igoye to send new BFA books to the Jinja Library to ensure that the library stock remains plentiful and relevant for students in Jinja. 

Reflecting back on the library that inspired Tom’s vision of Books For Africa, we are all proud of what has been accomplished, yet aware of how much work is left to be done in combating the African book famine.  The more than 34 million books delivered in our 28 year history have provided educational empowerment to countless children and communities, but with over half a billion children on the African continent, there is still a pressing need for high quality books and learning materials.  With an ever-growing base of donors, partners and volunteers, and a body of academic studies emphasizing the importance of books to increasing literacy and academic achievement, we are energized and enthusiastic about what the future holds!