Schools, we are often reminded, face all manner of targets – most of them imposed by the government. Three years ago the staff and students of Marlborough’s St John’s school set themselves a target – to get together enough books to start a new library at a village school in Zambia.
During 2008 and 2009 students collected books from families, friends and neighbours with the hope they could create one library for young people at a Zambian school.
However, the initiative was so successful that all the targets the students had set for their special international aid scheme were smashed. They collected a total of 17,500 serviceable books.
This enabled St John’s to provide more than enough books to equip not just one but twelve school libraries in Bauleni, a very poor area of Zambia just south of Lusaka. The first books were shipped in October 2009.
Anne Stokes, Learning Resources Manager at St John’s, is now launching phase two of the project. She is appealing for good condition fiction or non-fiction books and textbooks suitable for primary, junior and secondary aged children.
“The impact of these libraries and the books they contain has been incredible and we have had some amazing feedback from the schools, teachers and students as to how the books have made a difference to them” explained Mrs Stokes. “In one school adult literacy classes have now been established as many of the mothers and grandmothers wanted to be able to read and share the books with their children. I hope that local people will support the project and have a pre-Christmas clear-out. I see this as the very best sort of recycling!”.
With so many thousands of books involved, the project needed some help with logistics. The Swindon-based company The Big Yellow Storage Company stepped in and stored all the books free of charge until they were ready to be shipped. And now they’ve offered to do so again with the second phase books.
Anyone can help this imaginative scheme. All you have to do is deliver good quality young people’s books whose owners have outgrown them to St John’s at Granham Hill, marked for the attention of Mrs Anne Stokes.