Different Roads to Success in Kenya and Sierra Leone

 Books For Africa works with a wide variety of recipients in pursuit of our mission to end the African book famine.  

Sometimes, a University or community will receive a full 40 foot ocean container of books; such is the case with Kisii University in Kenya, where a container of over 20,000 university-level textbooks was recently delivered in partnership with BFA.  The container included multiple pallets of STEM textbooks, law books, and a set of Merck Medical Manuals.

Established in 1965, Kisii University has long focused on teachers' training, with alumni overseeing schools and educational programs throughout the country. Since being awarded a Charter to become the 13th public University in Kenya in 2013, Kisii has seen rapid growth in the breadth of academic programs offered and a sharp increase in student enrollment. The materials delivered through this project will help accommodate the rapid growth of the university and empower students and faculty to continue to improve education and literacy across Kenya.

Kisii University Vice Chancellor, Prof. John Sorana Akama, PhD, further details the impact these books will have on students and faculty in this letter to BFA .

For other potential recipients, however, a full container is far beyond their needs or means.  A small school or rural library may only need a few boxes or a single pallet of books to make the road to literacy a reality for students and community members.  One way that Books For Africa works to serve the needs of these recipients is through partnerships with regional groups such as the Sierra Leone Book Trust (SALBOT).  The long-time partnership between BFA and SALBOT has delivered 12 full containers to Sierra Leone since 2011, amd SALBOT has worked tirelessly to distribute age- and content-appropriate books to recipients small and large across Sierra Leone. The containers from Books For Africa are fundraised by Professor Dick Simpson of Chicago, IL, and distribution is spearheaded by Mr. Sallieu Turay, Director of SALBOT. 

A recent SALBOT container shipment, co-sponsored by funding from the S.L. Gimbel Fund, has generated tremendous feedback from recipients:

Mrs. Kadiatu A. Bah, Principal at SLMB Junior Secondary School in Freetown, writes

" on behalf of the Chairman Board of Governors, Staff and pupils… to acknowledge receipt of the books and express appreciation for your support to the school. The books and other learning materials … will no doubt be valuable and very relevant to the pupils of both the Junior and Senior School and will ultimately benefit both [our] school and the neighboring schools.  A total of twenty cartons of books, two encyclopedias and one science kit were received on the 5th September, 2015.  We thank you and will always count on your continued support. "

Alihaji N’Jai, MS, Ph.D., founder of Project 1808, Inc, tells us

" I want to take this opportunity on behalf of the board and membership of Project 1808, Inc to express our sincere thanks and gratitude for [the] generous donation of books to our organization.  As we ramp up our post-ebola plans, this donation of needed books will significantly enhance our literacy campaigns in Koinadugu District through installment of little libraries in the most remote and inaccessible areas of the country.  We hope with success in Koinadugu District to replicate and scale up these efforts to the rest of the country and other regions of Africa. "

Dennis M.K. Rogers, Principal of St. Andrew’s Senior Secondary School in Bo, Sierra Leone reports simply, “ The books come at the right time.  Our library was almost empty. "

This project is a shining example of one of BFA's great strengths: the distribution networks that have been developed over 27 years of fighting the African book famine. By relying on established and reliable partners such as SALBOT, BFA is able to put the right books into the hands of recipients urban and rural, regardless of religion, gender, or financial status. 

Kisii University and SALBOT are two examples of the many ways BFA delivers and distributes books across Africa.  Nelson Mandela said that "no country can really develop unless its citizens are educated," and this idea lies at the heart of BFA's mission.  By putting high quality educational materials into the hands of as many African learners as possible, we can help to empower the next generation of African leaders, and promote social and economic development across the African continent.