Machakos County is known for its beautiful spaces, warm people and diverse cultures. Thanks to our partnership with Amara Charitable Trust,whom with their unwavering support we have started eight (8) libraries together. Our commitment to nurturing a generation of lifelong readers by providing them with easy access to books has led us to work together to start libraries in eight schools in Machakos County. The latest launch of these libraries was on 9thFebruary, 2018, during the joint commissioning of junior reading ambassadors at Mathatani Primary and Secondary Schools.

The area around the schools is used for mining sand and rocks, making it very hot and dusty. Most of the children come from very humble backgrounds, and going to school and learning is their only way of rising above it and becoming great people of tomorrow. After walking long distances to get to school, these children also have to fight over the few reading materials available at the schools. This has led to them being unable to fully articulate themselves verbally and they also can’t write very well.

At 8am, the sun was already high up in the sky and the students of Mathatani Secondary School were eagerly waiting for the library to be opened. It was evident on their faces that they had never seen so many new books in one place before. While they had a library space, it was filled with old revision material and very few textbooks. Some students came to help us arrange the library, taking the time to look through some of the storybooks and revision materials we had brought to the school.



MATHATANI1.jpgAs part of our library awareness agenda, we held a joint stakeholder forum at the school which was attended by BOM and PTA members, representatives from Amara, parents and teachers. Also present was a representative from the Machakos County government and head teachers from neighbouring schools.  One of the key things we wanted to bring across was the role that each of these groups played in library management. In the presence of all those witnesses, the head teachers of the two schools also signed commitment forms, promising to take care of the library and make sure that each pupil utilised the books in the library.

We also trained student librarians from both the primary and secondary school. As junior reading ambassadors, their responsibility would be to make sure that the library was running smoothly and that the library lessons were adhered to. They were also to make sure that the library area was clean and help the teacher librarian in keeping good book records in the library. We also taught them how to use the book club diary to review and keep a record of the books they had read, and the Amara representatives present during the training were very impressed with the diaries, promising to purchase them for the school at a later date.

MATHATANI3.jpgThe cutting of the ribbon was the climax of the library launch event, allowing everyone to enter the library. For the ones seeing the books for the first time, their eyes were opened wide, looking this way and that as if desperate to see everything at once. The high school students were a bit more composed as they looked through the books and started reading the stories. The primary school pupils could not contain their joy at the new storybooks at their disposal. They started reading immediately and even conducted a read aloud exercise in the library.

Going forward, we plan to work closely with the schools and our partners to make sure that the library is running smoothly and that children are reading. Apart from training teacher librarians, we will also do field visits to the schools and collect monthly reports about the library. We will also check to see if the library lessons are being adhered to and how the school community has come together to be involved in the running of the library. Our hope is to see the growth of a vibrant reading culture in the children of Machakos County.

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