aaThe topic of environment is never an easy one, especially for children. When asked, most children just know the environment as trees, but it is so much more than that. On 26th January, 2018, NIC Bank sought to demystify this hard concept by planting a tree of knowledge at Madaraka Primary School. This was during the launch of a library filled with storybooks at the school on International Environmental Education Day.

Why storybooks?

aaaaaaaStories are not just for entertainment. They are also great learning tools for children. Through stories, a child can easily be taught difficult concepts like pollution and deforestation. Stories also provide avenues for children to be curious and let their minds wander, thereby enabling them to start thinking and ask questions about things that would normally never occur to them. When it comes to environmental education, teachers can use stories to engage the children in creative and imaginative ways. Children can also learn from the characters in the stories about what happens when the environment is taken care of and the consequences of not prioritizing environmental protection.

Even though the school is located in a well-to-do residential area in South B, Lang’ata Constituency, most of the pupils come from the Kibra and Mukuru slums. These are areas characterized by crime, unrest and pollution. These children are very committed to their education, travelling long distances to go to school every day. One of the constants in their lives is a lack of storybooks. In school, the focus is mainly textbooks and other curriculum material. At home, parents are usually too busy trying to make ends meet to be concerned about nurturing a reading culture in their children by buying them storybooks

aaaaThe library launch ceremony was attended by representatives from NIC Bank, school management, parents, teachers and pupils. The children were visibly excited as they waited for the library to be officially opened. As part of the launch, various bringing books to life events were organized for the different classes at the school field. These included read aloud, spelling bee and storytelling. While there, we also used the opportunity to teach children about the environment using the storybooks we would leave in the library. From Mwanza’s Wonderland the children learned about a boy who used the waste at a dumpsite to create beautiful toys, thereby teaching children about recycling. They learned about a greedy chief who depleted all the natural resources and the consequences that came from that in Kijiji cha Ukame , and from the story it became clear to them why environmental conservation was very important not just now, but also for future generations. To underscore that importance, NIC Bank also planted a tree at the school, and got a commitment from the pupils that they would take care of it.

aaaaaThe cutting of the ribbon at the door of the library and unveiling of the plaque was the highlight of the day for the pupils. For a long time, the pupils had mainly communicated in sheng because most of them didn’t know how to speak correct English, and this even transferred to their written communication, making them get consistently low grades in their exams. With the new library at the school, filled with exciting and age-appropriate storybooks, the learning outcomes of the pupils will definitely improve. To paraphrase Dr. Seuss, the more the pupils read, the more they’ll know, and the more places they’ll go.

It is said that children are a product of their environment, and with a library now at Madaraka Primary School, the children’s environment is now conducive for nurturing lifelong readers.

‘’I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people.’’  - Maya Angelou

Mashujaa Day on 20th October is a day that has been set aside for Kenyans to remember their heroes. In 2017, all roads led to Lower Kabete Primary School as we celebrated the late Professor Kofi Awoonor, our literary hero with the launch of the first hero library. This was a very special occasion for his children who wanted to honor their father’s memory by giving children a chance to read, learn and explore new realities.

aLower Kabete Primary School is a mixed day school that was established in 1969. It is located along Kabete Road just next to Kenya School of Government. The school has a population of 700 pupils, most of who come from the nearby Gachie slum. Most of their parents and guardians are semi-literate, and they don’t really understand the importance of reading in the development of their children. Consequently, they don’t buy their children storybooks or even encourage them to find opportunities to read for pleasure.

It is precisely this gap we sought to fill by starting a library at the school filled with 1,500 storybooks. Even though it was a school holiday, the pupils knew that the addition of a library in the school was a vital turning point in their lives, and they were at the school by 7:00am.The scouts even came in uniform to honor the momentous occasion. There was a palpable air of excitement around the pupils as they got ready for the big event.

Among the people who attended were the chief guest Muthoni Garland,representatives of the school’s Board of Management, parents, teachers and pupils. The prevailing message from all the speakers at the event was that the pupils had now been given the world through the storybooks in the library and it was now up to them to utilize this amazing gift by reading and learning every day. As per the head teacher’s words, reading would not only help them improve their writing and comprehension skills, but it would also help them to imagine and explore new worlds andpossibilities.

books in the libraryThe climax of the ceremony was when the library door was finally opened and the pupils got their first look at the brand new books in their new school library. With so many to choose from, it was a struggle for many of them to choose just one book to read, and they could be seen moving from one side of the library to another with multiple books in hand. Guests and teachers were also not left behind as they also found their own stories to read and enjoy. In a matter of minutes, the library was full and the pupils found a creative solution of utilizing the available space by arranging kangas and cushions on the ground to sit and read on. Muthoni Garland also led a read aloud session in the library, and it was quite an eye opener to the pupils who now had a different way of reading and understanding their favorite book.

Going forward, we will conduct a teacher and student librarians training at the school when the school term resumes. Among the things we will teach them include how to conduct library lessons and make them exciting for the pupils, how to create an effective book borrowing system and hoe to preserve the books. We will also help them come up with a library master timetable, as well as a set of library rules.

‘’I can now be a little hero thanks to all the books in the library.’’ - Grace, class 5 pupil

joy of booksEvery child wants to have a hero they can believe in, but what most of them don’t know or don’t believe is that there’s a hero inside. For the late Professor Kofi Awoonor, his heroism was evident in his writing where he fearlessly tackled the many big issues plaguing the world today. He was also very committed to advocating for literacy and empowerment of youth. He inspired millions from Africa and across the world to use their spaces and influence for the betterment of society. It is this spirit that we want to keep alive by starting 78 Hero libraries in his honor. Our hope is that the stories within will inspire the pupils to dream big and reach deep inside themselves to unleash the hero within.



‘’Pan-Africanists say ‘the pen is mightier than the sword.’ My father may not have been a military man, but he fought, he fought with his pen, he fought with his words. He fought against injustice, oppression, bigotry, colonialism, and even though his life was taken by an act of terrorism, the forces he fought against his whole life have been unable to silence his voice.He and other great national heroes, whether literary or military, live on in the works they left behind, the monuments to freedom, the people and nations they inspired.’’ - Afetsi Awoonor

 ‘’To the family and friends of the late Professor Kofi Awoonor, a big THANK YOU for the library. It has inspired our children to read. We remember him this day as our Shujaa’’ - BOM Chairman

‘’Because of the library, I will grow up reading and learning about new worlds. Asanteni sana!’’ - Zawadi, class 6 pupil

‘’Education is a light in every child’s life. Thank you so much for the library.’’ - Mercy, class 5 Swahili teacher

‘’Thank you for bringing so many storybooks to the library. I will read them ALL. You are now my hero!’’- John, class 7 pupil

‘’Thank you for bringing two cultures together in the love of reading.  Professor Awoonor’s legacy lives on through the library.’’- Jane Nyongesa, Deputy Head teacher

‘’The library will make it possible for children to read and become tomorrow’s heroes.’’- Peter, class 6 English teacher

‘’To the family of Prof. Kofi Awoonor, words cannot express our gratitude. May God bless you as you continue the good work of the great HERO, your dad. Reading culture will continue in our school forever.’’- Margaret Onyango, Head teacher

‘’I now have the world in my little hands and I can dream. Thank you for the library.’’- Martin, class 8 pupil


We have already launched the first hero library, and our plan is to launch the remaining 77 libraries in 300 days in 2018. We are calling on all likeminded individuals and organizations to support us as we create new African heroes through libraries and the love of books. Support us today by sending your donations HERE.

A library is a passport to wonders, glimpses into other lives, experiences, the hopes and dreams and strivings of all human beings. It opens our eyes and hearts to the world beyond our front doors, and is one of our best hopes against hopelessness, despair, and ignorance.

We celebrated World Read Aloud Day on 1st February, 2018 at Dr. Ribeiro Parklands School at the launch of the second hero library in honor of the late Prof. Kofi Awoonor. As one of Africa’s most prolific literary voices, he was well known for his might with a pen, and his commitment to promoting literacy among children and the youth.

Dr. Ribeiro Parklands School exudes a rich history that spans from colonial and post-colonial past. The founding fathers of the school, the late Dr. A.C.I de Souza and Dr.Ribeiro, combined efforts and started a school to cater for interest of their Goan community members. Over time, the school grew to accommodate children from other communities. It also became an integrated school with a fully functional cerebral palsy unit with 120 pupils currently. Most of the school’s pupil population comes from Ngara and Deepsea slums, areas that are characterized by poverty, violence and drug abuse. Most of the parents are casual workers who hardly make enough to provide the basic needs, let alone purchase storybooks. The children end up grossly disadvantaged with no storybooks at home or school. 

Parents, well-wishers and the nearby community started streaming in to be part of the library launch event from as early as 8:00am. A news team from BBC Newsday was also in attendance to record and celebrate the big day with us. The day was full of smiles from the pupils; the head teacher wore a coronet decked with flowers to signify a happy day. The best band of the school created sweet sensations by its tunes of modern songs. The party of jolly young boysand girls began to dance and twist to the tunes of the band. All the songs, dances and theatre performances were a testimony of the hunger for stories and the anticipated change the library was going to make.

Soon, it was time to cut the tape and we launched the new library amid ululations and thank you speeches from the head teacher, BOG rep and PTA Chairman. In no time, the library was crowded and the pupils were full of smiles and overjoyed as they sat down to begin their literacy journey.

In the words of the head teacher, abject poverty coupled with other associated challenges continues to define the story for most of the children at the school. It is a familiar one that is reflected in the way they compose a sentence while writing or speak in English. It is mainly characterized by uncertainty, fear and to some extent, a sense of hopelessness. Her belief was that regular reading would gradually transform this story to one of hope and new beginnings. The head teacher highlighted the value of the library in improving the overall reading, writing and comprehension skills of the pupils. She cited that the books would stimulate the children to imagine, discover and explore new ideas and narratives.


                                                      EVENT IN WORDS

‘’To the family of Prof. Kofi Awoonor, words cannot express our gratitude. The best kind of friends are those that enter your life, and help you to see a blue sky where before there was a cloudy sky. They are the ones that have so much faith in you that you start having faith in yourself.  These are the friends we should be grateful for. God bless you’’

- Irene Ngugi, Head teacher

 ‘’To the family and friends of the late Professor Kofi Awoonor, a big THANK YOU for the library. There’s nothing better than a good person. They can change your whole day. They can change your whole life, he’s our Shujaa’’   

- BOM Chairman

‘’You have given me a new life. Thank you so much for the library.’’

- Margaret, class 5 pupil

‘’I never saw this coming; it’s the beginning of achieving my dream. Thank you.’’ 

 - Marvin, class 8 pupil

‘’Because of the library, I will grow up reading and learning about new worlds. Asanteni Sana!’’  

- Maulid, class 6 pupil

‘The storybooks are very nice and I will read them all. You are my heroes!’’  

- Natalie, class 7 pupil

‘’I can now also be a hero thanks to all the books in the library.’’   

- Gadhi, class 5 pupil

 Millions of children are in dire need of libraries. Stories are a fun way for children to imagine great things, take them to many places and ultimately transform their lives. As part of our project dubbed '78 hero libraries in 300 days' we are continuously fundraising to start these libraries by the end of September, 2018. We have launched 2 already, with 76 to go. With your support, we are sure that we will reach our set target and even surpass it.

This month, we are specifically seeking donations to start a library at City Primary School located in Parklands with a population of 650 pupils. We understand the access to books is of extreme importance to the development of our kids, and we want to launch the library with at least 1,500 books. Be part of our library marathon by donating your time, skills and finances HERE .

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