U.S. Marines Deliver BFA Books to Schoolchildren in Djibouti

A U.S. Marine Greets Students at Chabellier School in Djibouti.

In March 2009, Marines from the 9th Provisional Security Force, a reserve unit stationed in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA, began delivering approximately 15,000 BFA books and Marine-built bookcases to primary and secondary schools across Djibouti as well as the University of Djibouti.

View a slideshow of this project.

The project began when Marine Lt. Col. Lawrence White, Commanding Officer of the 9th PSF, contacted Patrick Plonski, Executive Director of Books For Africa. “They found there was a huge need for books in the schools, and contacted BFA to facilitate delivery to the villages,” Plonski said.

The Marines are stationed at Camp Lemonier, the only U.S. military infrastructure located in Africa. According to Marine Staff Sgt. Marcus Sharp, the distribution of BFA books and bookcases is “a great way to solidify our already strong relationship with the Djiboutians.”

Students at Chabellier School in Djibouti read their BFA books.“This is a gigantic addition to the libraries these schools used to have,” said Marine Chief Warrant Officer Jay Testa. “Many of them were working with old, dilapidated books, and we were able to provide very up-to-date textbooks in mass quantity.”

Testa believes it’s his responsibility as a Marine and human being to give back to those less fortunate: “Americans are better off than third-world countries are, and if we can provide assistance in some way to make their lives better, especially with a long-term benefit like educational material, then it’s our duty as people.”