In June 2017, we launched our new mobile library, and since we are already more than a year into this project we would love to share some of the ups and downs of the past 16 months. In the modern era we live in, the world of books are competing with digital trends. For those of us that love books and reading it’s almost unthinkable that anyone, let alone a child, may not have the opportunity to discover the magical world between the pages of a real book. The pressure on the businesses and communities are increasing to go paperless as far as possible. That being said, I don’t believe I would ever have developed the love of books had I only had the opportunity to read digitally since childhood. That’s exactly why this project is so extremely important for young and old, benefiting from the mobile library initiative!
Successes and opportunities to do more
The eagerness with which young children visit the vehicle to borrow books is so heartwarming. At each school we run our free literacy classes in, at least 60-80 pupils come to collect a book, some returning after a couple of days to swap the book for another! Even children around town are so familiar with the mobile library that you’ll hear them yelling “Pen to Paper” as soon as they spot the vehicle.
From running our literacy classes, we identified an issue this year with girls missing school during their menstruation so we put “pen to paper” and planned a very successful workshop on menstrual health and empowerment with over 400 girls in attendance. It was so effective, that we decided to roll out the initiative in 4 villages we visited this summer when we went to volunteer in Togo. These workshops are something we want to continue to run and we're currently looking for sustainable measures to provide reusable sanitary pads to the girls. Get in touch if you have any ideas!
Fear that books might go missing, means many schools (who have libraries) lock-up their books so the children aren’t able to use them. At the mobile library, we’ve found that holding each child accountable for the one book they take out, means they bring that book back before they get a new one. The children also know if they don’t bring books back we will have to stop going to that school (which hasn’t happened). So this was a possible challenge of ours but it’s been mitigated.
We really need help in the area of staffing. Since we don’t have enough donations, we are not able to employ staff to run more literacy classes and have limited time to visit schools with the mobile library. The mobile library also costs in fuel and maintenance so we’re really looking for more monthly donors to help us with the NGO operational costs.
The truth is there is no shortage of opportunities, the innumerable amount of calls we receive from schools requesting us to visit them is a testimony in itself.
“I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything; but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.” - Edward Everett Hale
Together we can make a difference
The most enjoyable for us is the fact that young and old approach us for books. We even get the odd enquiry if we sell books. Since the lady across the street from us found out it’s a library she often comes over to get books for her children. I may add, one of her friends is also now doing the same for her children. Don’t you just love the passion that comes with reading? We sure do!
The reality however of the limitations we face means we’re not yet able to serve the community in the way we would like to and in the many ways they need. That’s why we are so thankful for every donation which enables us to make a much-needed difference in the lives of so many.
As we are approaching the holidays we are reminded of how much we have to be thankful for. Our greatest accomplishment however is how much of that we share with those not blessed in the same ways we are.