‘’We read to know we are not alone.’’   - C.S. Lewis

Slum areas are characterised by cramped spaces, unsanitary conditions and too many people. For the children in these slums, their lives are made especially hard by the fact that most of the people who have authority over them are too busy looking for food and other essentials to worry about their children’s reading habits. In fact, most of them just take their children to school ‘to spend the day there’ with no regard for whether they can read or not.

nairobi south1Nairobi South Primary School is such a school. It is a public primary school with a            total population of 1,068 pupils. The school is located in South B, just opposite Our          Lady of Mercy Catholic Church. Even though the school is surrounded by a middle          class residential area, most of the pupils come from the nearby Mukuru Kayaba            slums, which had previously made getting access to storybooks almost impossible.        This urgency for books has been evident in the consistently low results the pupils get      in their language exams as well as the fact that many of them can barely speak and      be understood in public.

On Monday, 23rd October 2017, the gates of Nairobi North Primary School opened        at 6.30am for the launch of the school library. Even though it was during the school          holidays, the pupils of class 6, 7 and 8 were all there to witness this great occasion.          The library, which had been donated by Ingredion, Rao Cheekati and Algelgel, had a        total of 700 new storybooks for all class levels.

 

 

nairobi south2The launch ceremony was well attended, with representatives from Ingredion and the PTA, as well as teachers and pupils. The program started with a very powerful speech by the school President that clearly articulated why the library was important not just for him, but for every pupil. The Deputy Head teacher, Mrs. Omenda, was overjoyed about the addition of a functional library in the school. She encouraged the children to use the library space effectively. The best way to do that would be to make sure that they read a book every day. Tracy, one of the Ingredion representatives present was also very keen to instil the value of learning as a constant in the lives of the pupils, letting them know that the more they read, the more things they would know, and the more things they would learn.

The best part of the day was when the library door ribbon was cut and the pupils were allowed to get inside the library. There was an air of expectancy and wonder around the pupils as they saw the books for the first time. For many of them it was the first time they were seeing so many new storybooks in one place and they were almost afraid to touch, though the curiosity finally won. Soon the library was full as the pupils, teachers and guests enjoyed reading some of the stories. We also conducted a read aloud session in the library. Just as we’d brought books to nourish their minds, we also brought biscuits for the pupils donated by Nuvita Biscuits to nourish their stomachs.

Going forward, we will conduct a training session for the teacher and student librarians once the school year starts. The training is done as a way to familiarise them with the library and all the roles they’ll play connected to it. We will also monitor the library lessons and other related activities, while lending our expertise to the school.

‘’A book is a dream that you hold in your hand.’’ – Neil Gaiman

nairobi south3The children of Nairobi South Primary School may not come from the best of places, but their thirst for knowledge is undeniable. Due to the high population of the school, 700 storybooks are just not enough. We are continuously fundraising for more storybooks, the minimum being 1500 for the school. We are calling on all well-wishers and likeminded individuals and companies to contribute to this worthy cause. Let us come together and give these children dreams.

EVENT IN WORDS

‘A library is a sea of knowledge’ - Brian, School president

‘It was great to see how enthusiastic the children were and their willingness to entertain the guests. The books were well arranged in the library and the titles catered to all age groups. It seemed to me that the children were genuinely happy to receive the books and were eager to start borrowing from the library. My hope is that the books are well taken care of so that they can be used over many years and that the children learn to respect books. I also hope the teachers will give the children a chance to borrow from the library without unnecessary restrictions’ – Tracy, Ingredion representative

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