At primary school, I must have been 8 or 9, it was announced that we were allowed choose whatever we wanted to do for one whole, glorious afternoon - well this was the seventies after all and I can only assume it was for us to "discover" ourselves or just that the teacher had other things to do. Most of my friends played out or played board games or painted. But I'd been looking forward to this opportunity all week and had been collecting material for my afternoon. A little way into it the teacher came round to each of us and I eventually realised she'd been trying to get my attention for some time.. "Are you going to read all afternoon, then?" I nodded, anxious to get back to the story and she left me to it, almost apologising for interrupting. The next interruption was that it was suddenly home time.
That desire to immerse myself in books has never left me - I love any kind of journey to use the time reading (or writing for that matter. I'm on a ferry writing this.) Books can open so many worlds to everyone who reads or studies using them. So when I was offered the opportunity to take books to read for pleasure, and to improve their English, to our latest students at the new girls school in Tanzania I scoured charity shops, second-hand book shops and websites to find suitable material. I got DVDs too. You’ve no idea how books fill a suitcase and how heavy they are!
In the meantime Nicola was sourcing text books in English for the school curriculum because they are so difficult to come by and expensive in Tanzania - the sciences, maths, history, geography, English… everything you'd expect a secondary school to be offering for a first class education. Sister Elena sent us her books wishlist. Wordsworth Editions generously offered us school text books at a 90% discount and we sent some on ahead by air and picked them up when we arrived.
Unpacking the books and starting the "library" was a pretty exciting moment with lots of ooohs and aaaahs from Sister Maureen. However all that weight and effort from our suitcases barely covered more than a couple of shelves. The boxes from Wordsworth Editions covered a few more - in fact were spread, thinly, over a couple of cupboards.
Thanks to our thoughtful donors we have since sent two more consignments to the school by sea and with help from the Ministry of Education and local contacts our consignments passed customs smoothly. At last the girls can start to use modern books to support their English and improve their learning - they'll still have to share of course as there aren't enough to go round with 5 copies of each. As a new school, this first year's intake of 150 will soon be needing higher levels books as they move up a year. Next year's intake will be 160 more first year girls and so on until they have completed all 6 years of secondary education and taken their final exams.
The children treasure their books at the schools and they last forever. Can you help us provide enough text books for all the subjects and all the girls, whatever their year?
It will cost us £11750 to invest in the new text books needed by the next intake of girls arriving in early 2020. Enough for one book per child in the key subjects. That's a whole year of learning, escaping a future of poverty by having a good education based on a properly resourced classroom full of books. That's my idea of money well spent. Please give what you can to make it happen for the girls in Tanzania. Thank you.