Growing up with siblings, cousins and neighbors, we were never short of reasons for conflict. ‘I don’t want to be the one who eats the last slice of bread,’ or ‘why don’t you want to play my game?’ Anything and everything could start out friendly and end up in an under-ten light weight boxing match - the kind that was so heated that after we were separated from each other and asked what started the fight, we just could not put a finger on it. If we did not get a dose of action at the vacant piece of land turned playground nearby, we got a good slipper swatting to our backsides because we got carried away and came back home at dark.
I distinctly remember my sister asking me to talk for one of her dolls until the day I said, “enough is enough!” I wanted a little time to sit in a corner, read a book and recharge. The introverted among us may say an amen. At the time, it was the perfect escape. I have grown up since then and met other people who like me enjoy a good book and some quiet space. The book lovers! I cannot say I knew many growing up, nor did I have much opportunity to enjoy a storybook in peace.
Earlier this year, while facilitating a couple of community reading days with the enjuba team, I was a little envious of the children. When we toured the PEFO Community Library I thought, “where was this stuff when I was growing up?” Their library is designed to appeal to children and has plenty of reading, drawing and writing activities. PEFO, Marko Lukoya and the communities they serve in Jinja and Mukono respectively, are among the beneficiaries of book donations through enjuba’s partnership with the African Library Project.
Uganda has one of the youngest populations in the world. Statistics show that between 2009-2019, 46.5% of the population were aged between 0-14years. Every year about 1,200,000 children are born in Uganda. Each of these children has a right to an education and a right to enjoy play-time. Yet limited access to reading material may inhibit children’s self-motivation to learn from books as a form of play. A research done by Timothy Bates and Stuart Ritchie shows a positive correlation between early reading skills and socio-economic status in the future.
For many children who do not have books at home, community libraries remain accessible to them when schools are closed and support schools that do not have libraries or adequate books during the school term. Uganda has about 32 public libraries and the Uganda Community Library Association boasts of over 100-member libraries. Through this program, schools libraries as well as new and existing community libraries can apply for donations of up to 1000 age appropriate books to stock their libraries and create a convenient space for book lovers all around the country.
If you would like books to start a library in your community, please email us -firstname.lastname@example.org.