Friday, February 20, 2015

Empowering the African Youth !

Last Thursday, I woke up at 7:30 am and my phone displayed -10°C. There is no need to tell you that I automatically heard this smooth voice saying “It is okay if you cancel everything and go back to sleep.” My bed was so comfortable and deliciously warm that I didn’t want to leave it and go out. Fortunately I thought about everything I planned for the day, the people who were counting on my presence and I finally said “Goodbye bed, see you soon.” THANKS GOD I had victory over my laziness. My day was so great that I would definitely do it again if I was asked to.

I had the immense pleasure to volunteer with Books for Africa and discover what people are doing there. So here is the short story. “Books for Africa was founded in 1988 as a non-profit organization by Tom Warth, whose dream was to ship donated books to the children of Africa. Tom’s visit to a Ugandan library, where books were almost nonexistent, inspired him to create a system for collecting discarded books from American schools, libraries, and publishers to send to Africa.”

I was very excited to be in this cold warehouse full of wonders… We sorted out books according to the subject (math, leisure, art, science…) and to the audience (elementary, middle, high schools, university). I don’t know how to explain what I was exactly feeling. I wanted to read most of the books I had on hands but despite the fact that I couldn't, I felt happy to know that someone else would be able to do so. Many people including myself, take for granted this chance that they have to learn, to travel by turning a page. According to the United States Agency for International Development, forty-six million African children have never set foot in a classroom. Moreover, 10 to 20 of those kids having the chance to go to school may have to share one textbook.

Books for Africa is the world’s largest shipper of donated books to Africa. In 2013 alone, they shipped 1.5 million books, 775 computers and 3 law libraries valued at over $22 million to 21 countries. They also shipped French-language books from Paris to Cameroon in July and to Guinea in October 2014. The books are collected at the Books For Africa warehouses in St. Paul, Minnesota and Atlanta, Georgia from individuals, book companies, publishers, schools and libraries. As Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. This is the reason why BFA is working to end the book famine in Africa and give the chance to millions of children to improve their lives and help realize a better future for Mama Africa.

As you can see on the next picture, there are many ways to get involved in this wonderful journey of empowering the African youth. 

I talked about the organization with one of my friends and he asked “Why are we the ones always receiving?” Of course he was wrong because other parts of the world also receive some helps in many domains. But still, it is true and sad to see that African countries depend so much of the others’ charities. Although I am grateful for this opportunity given to millions of kids, I wish that one day we won’t have to rely on exterior aid to solve our own issues. It is great to discover other places, cultures through the books but as Chimamanda NgoziAdichie said, we should not have a single story of what books are. I hope that in addition of books from other parts of the world, there will also be more African books (both leisure and academic ones) written by and about Africans that will be spread around the continent. Books are powerful so let’s use them to tell and learn our own story.

After two hours in this wonder-room, I left to bridge the gap between surplus and need of medical supplies with Medshare. I told you…I had a great day J



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