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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Books for Guinea

Disclaimer: This blog post is an open letter to friends and family, a shameless plea to help bring the love of reading to my community.

Ever day my little 5-year-old brother comes to my door with a simple demand, a single word, “Livre”. He wants to look through one of my  National Geographic’s. He loves the pictures and never tires of asking, “What’s that?” though I’ve explained every article a dozen times. It’s wonderful to share in his excitement. Whenever friends visit he borrows an issue and happily recounts his own version of the stories. 

However for most Guineans, books play a very small role in their lives. Like most people in my community, the only books my family owns are textbooks. Whenever I pull out a book while waiting for a taxi or lounging in my hammock, they assume I’m working. They’ve never read a novel. Libraries are a rarity and books in the region’s few bookstores are too expensive. A culture of reading for enjoyment or self-education is virtually non-existent. After all, the national literacy rate is ~30%.

Twenty-five other volunteers and I are working to change this reality by getting books into the hands of children and other interested community members. We're working with the non-profit organization Books for Africa to send 22,000 French books to communities across the country. We will share these books to create new libraries and expand existing ones.   The books will range from children’s reading books to high school textbooks. My community library will allow residents to check-out library books for the first time in their lives and host a reading room.  Our library will partner with the local literacy advocacy group to makes books accessible to the most community members possible. 

For transportation costs, we need to raise $20,000. Obviously, that’s
a lot of money, but essentially it is less than $1 per book. We can’t
find a better deal than that. Our local communities have shown their
dedication to the project by agreeing to raise $5,000 themselves to
cover port expenses and in-country transportation.

If you’re interested in helping our project, you can go to our project
page on Books for Africa’s website here
Thank you so much for your time and support. Together, we can greatly
impact education in Guinea and help foster a love of reading.

My lil bro and I

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