Project: Akili Reading Club

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I had this idea, to start a children’s library in my other home country Tanzania. According to the BIG MAGIC by Elisabeth Gilbert, an idea will find someone who is willing to implement it. However, if you procrastinate, someday it will leave to find someone else. That’s why you sometimes read a book written by someone else and think, I wanted to write such a book. Well, I did not procrastinate. I shared this idea with my beloved. Together we dared to venture. On site, we involved my uncle who is a retired teacher.

While rolling off the idea, I read an article by Daily News of Tanzania titled “Standard Seven Pupils Fail to Read Class Two English Books”. It stated, “…The inequality in terms of access, facilities and quality is worrisome,” Ms Mgalla said adding “pupils from wealth families gets better books and teachers and ultimately perform well compared to their peers from poor household…” This information further fueled my intention.

The children’s library project at Mabogini Primary School in Moshi, Kilimanjaro is now operating. The school management and county education officer have been very supportive of our idea. My uncle embraced the responsibility of coordinating the implementation of this idea on the ground.

It has been not an easy journey. At first we were given a room in the church premises. After renovation and painting, the room was reclaimed back. Looking back, we’re glad that option didn’t work regardless of the costs incurred. The current room is at a public school. The school children, who are from different religious backgrounds will have access to it. So the hurdle encountered was a blessing in disguise i.e. the library access is INCLUSIVE.

One small story to share about this project was my winning money from a scratch card. One Saturday morning, we drove by a kiosk and I told my beloved that I feel lucky. Just before getting out of the car, I saw the hotline number of his car manufacturer company. The number had five 7s. Somehow it confirmed my feelings of being lucky. We went into the kiosk and he suggested on buying lotto card. I insisted on a scratch card. He asked which one and I said any. He chose the platinum. On our way out, I scratched it while standing on the pavement. It said, if you find number 7 you will win the amount next to it. I found four 7s, one with amount of 20 Euros and the remaining with 10 Euros each. Total won amount 50 Euros. We both agreed to add it to the costs we were incurring for mailing the collected books.

Many helped us and still are in different ways: approval to implement such an idea at a public primary school, collecting/buying/donating books, supervising the school room renovation, creation of a logo, etc. It may not be the perfect library however, the children have now access to more books and a reading area. On behalf of everyone, we’re truly thankful to everyone who made this possible. This is a BIG MAGIC moment.

In one of my published article in the country’s Daily News, I urged and continue to do so. Let’s start with a campaign and a slogan “Kusoma na kuandika ni burudani” (reading and writing is fun). This idea has replicability potential. You too can pick a school and assist to set up a reading library. If you love to read and want to share this love with others, I guarantee you venturing on such a project will fulfil your bibliophile yearnings. What are you waiting for?

To see photos of the project development stages, go here.

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