Many years ago, my friend and colleague Jane Kurtz, a children's author from the US who was born in Ethiopia, was part of a group of both Americans and Ethiopians wanting to put books in the hands of children here. They were instrumental in starting up a library program to help bring literacy and a love of reading to children in Ethiopia.
Their vision blossomed into a solid organization: Ethiopia Reads.
Their mission statement says ‘Ethiopia Reads collaborates with Ethiopian communities to build schools, plant libraries, teach teachers, boost literacy and provide youth and families with the tools to improve their lives’.
Ethiopia Reads’ projects include starting and running libraries at local schools that did not previously have books.
The school has to make available a space suitable for a library.
ER than supplies books and a librarian and helps to foster a love of reading in local children and their families. They help to train teachers to be librarians and organize programs such as story time.
A few of the libraries are community libraries, open to anyone who wants to come and read. Often the children, and adults, don’t actually borrow the books, but come in to read and to listen to stories.
In the countryside, some of the libraries are not located in buildings. These unique, horse powered mobile libraries deliver books to remote villages.
In the US Ethiopia Reads offers a consistent program to help with their fundraising. You can sponsor a book or an entire library. You can attend events, donate and even come to work as a volunteer. I know I enjoyed my visit to a small community library yesterday, where the kids were eager to hear stories. I can’t wait to visit a school library later this week.
Check out the website for many details on how you can be involved (with your students!), to watch videos and more: http://www.ethiopiareads.org