1.4 Million Books to Zimbabwe and Counting: The Zambezi Schoolbook Project Partnership with BFA Keeps Delivering

Claude and Barbara Mayfield spent two decades of their careers in southern Africa. During that time, they encountered many schools in need of books and libraries. It wasn’t until 2012, however, while helping schools in rural Zimbabwe, that they got involved with BFA to establish rural school libraries in the country.

They worked with a number of different organizations to sponsor and distribute the books, including Children in the Wilderness, which recently posted an article by the Mayfields summarizing their work and what motivates them.

As they write on their partnership with BFA: “We learned that BFA is one of the most efficient charities in the USA because they focus their strengths on obtaining books from a myriad of sources (publishers, libraries, schools, used book companies and charities, individuals, etc.).  Using a minimal administrative and logistics staff and a steady stream of volunteers (from businesses, schools and universities, civic clubs, churches, etc.) BFA prepares pallets of boxes of books by subject category for specific age readers.

While they work at a high level in governmental and charitable donor organisations, BFA has not organised, nor tasked, themselves to implement the in-African-country half of the equation.  They rather rely on others, such as ZSP, to come to them with a fully developed project to do that.  That fully developed project must include funding from our side to cover BFA overheads in preparing the shipments and all of the funding to take the container(s) from the loading dock at BFA Atlanta to the readers of the books in the receiving African country.”

Claude and Barbara worked with partner organizations to conduct fundraising and also make sure there were volunteers to receive containers, transport and distribute the books, as substantial legwork is needed once the books arrive in country. Over the years since receiving their first container in 2014, much has been done to develop the system in place to receive the books, with the Rotary Club of Harare West becoming the anchor point for logistics and supporting schools.

In more recent years, Books For Africa has leveraged its high-level partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense Humanitarian Assistance Program in support of Claude and Barbara’s Zambezi Schoolbook Project, with over 1.4 million books shipped thus far. In Zimbabwe, individuals and organizations have embraced the project in an area they were passionate about, to uplift their schools and communities. Tens of thousands of children have been reached thus far.

Work on the project continues, and BFA is planning to send another 5 containers, funded by the Department of Defense partnership, in summer 2022!

You can read more about Claude and Barbara’s work by following BFA’s Success Stories and by the Zambezi Schoolbook Project’s Facebook page.

BFA Executive Director Patrick Plonski with book recipients