Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Libraries Thriving / Scores Soaring


A typical day in my Ugandan life

At Kitebi Laurel Library, the librarian had collected the books from all the classes, as the term is almost over. The school has 1,400 students. And, yes, there were almost that many books in stacks all over the floor. They all needed cards placed back in the books – and then shelved. Unfortunately, they forgot to install air-conditioning and a teachers lounge with snacks in this school. On the good side, there were four holes (toilets) to choose from … the main decision being which had the fewest flies zooming out before squatting. From 7:30 a.m to 1 p.m., the librarian, Maureen, and I sat on the floor taking care of books, and thoroughly enjoying our visit.

I then waited for the deputy headmaster to bring the car so we could move to Namirembe Primary for our 2 p.m. Libraries of Love headmasters’ meeting. At 1:20, she arrived in the library to tell me she was ready to go. It was pouring down rain. She then informed me she has no car, so we should walk down the long, muddy drive, catch a public transport van – and then transfer to a boda (motorcycle). We would do all of this in the drenching rain. OK, I can do most things here – but a boda in the rain is not acceptable, unless one wants to meet God quickly. Enter into this picture a private hire (car taxi) driven by an old Libraries of Love friend, Emmanuel! Saved!

Headmasters Meeting

The headmasters’ meeting was remarkable. All 14 headmasters from Kampala, and the surrounding areas, were in attendance. Very impressive, considering the rain! As one said, we are now a family. Various headmasters shared how daily reading has improved academic scores in their schools. In fact, the primary school housing our first library now has the highest overall academic score of any school in the district. A secondary headmaster laughed as he described that the biggest problem they face is students hiding library books behind textbooks in the classrooms, so they can continue reading. We sang, had discussions, laughed, and snacked … simply a great time.


The Shipment

For some reason, our ship vacationed in the Bahamas for three weeks. It is now in South Africa – soon to sail for Kenya. The headmasters have agreed to supply three men from each of their schools to help unload. Plus, they will each have a truck ready to take away the boxes for their particular schools. That will be a sight – unloading a 40 ft. container, 943 boxes, without any equipment.


As I see kids reading sprawled all over the floor in our libraries, in classrooms in the mornings, and sitting outside on breaks, I realize it is happening. Year by year, book by book, word by word, lives are being changed. To you, I am grateful. The libraries are very expensive, yet you care and provide the funding. When volunteer help is needed, people arrive, smiling, and ready to help. How wonderful is that?!
Katonda okuwe omulusa olwo kisakyo. May God bless you for your kindness.


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