African Library Project

The Stories We Tell: Our Blog

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Book drive organizer, Christina Herrick writes about how she honored her son’s memory by hosting a book drive with African Library Project. We're honored to share her story.



I imagine my initial reason for wanting to do a book drive for African Library Project was different than most. I had recently lost my 18-year-old son, who was an avid reader and had amassed a vast collection of books. When faced with the task of what to do with them all, a friend told me about African Library Project. It was the perfect fit! My son’s books were more precious to him than anything else, and I wanted to make sure that they went somewhere that they would be appreciated. He would have absolutely loved the idea of them being sent to Africa, to start libraries there and help instill a love of reading in other kids.

Of course, he didn’t quite have a thousand books in his collection, so I committed to doing a book drive to collect enough books for a library. I started by asking friends and neighbors, and my daughter put a collection box at her school. And then the domino effect began. One of my friend’s daughters decided that she wanted to help. She started a collection at her middle school, then extended it to the elementary schools in her town. She collected over 3500 books herself! Another friend, who owns a restaurant in our town, offered to put a collection box there, as did my hairdresser. More books! 

Someone else who heard about the project offered to donate the money that he raised from a local fundraiser he ran each year to help cover shipping costs. The daughter of another friend then decided to start a book drive at her high school and collected over 1500 books! There were also complete strangers who helped. I had three different retiring reading specialist teachers who had heard about the project and donated their entire collection of books. A mother who had seen my flyer at the nature center where I volunteer, emailed me and wanted to donate books. She then told me that her children and some of their friends had run a lemonade stand all summer to raise money to help with shipping costs.

The books keep coming and coming. I had hoped to collect enough books to start one library. I am now working on my seventh! And I have just heard about another student who wants to collect books this year in our town’s middle school, so we are not finished yet! I have been extremely touched by the outpouring of support. Besides all of the book donations, there have been 26 people who have been involved in helping to pack up the books and get them to the post office for shipping. I have been keenly aware of how much people are truly enjoying being able to help on this project. Everyone is just feeling so good! I am so happy to be honoring my son’s memory through this wonderful project.

Guest blogger and book drive organizer, Sankalpa Bhuma from San Ramon, CA shares her experience as a reader and how it spurred her to volunteer for a larger cause.

Towards the end of my sixth birthday, I received what I could only perceive as the ultimate symbol of adulthood: a chapter book. Specifically, a Magic Tree House book. I, a newly minted six-year-old, had never even touched a chapter book before. It didn’t help that it came with a shocking twenty-nine others of the same series, and I couldn’t fathom how I was supposed to consume one, let alone thirty whole chapter books. The shock of the gift quickly turned to excitement with the prospect of the instant transformation into a “big kid”, pushing me to open the first book. I discovered the power of reading: the ease of immersing yourself through those sweet words and transporting to another world. A world filled with adventure, a world filled with love, a world filled with mystery, a world filled with laughter. I would be with the characters through their quests and their trials, in the midst of the action.

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Ghana and the whole of Africa, in general, is known to have a rich history of making art. From its traditional garments and dances to urban murals, art comes in many different forms for African countries.

You don't have to travel far to see graffiti in North America. Just go outside and you're likely to get a glimpse of it in some shape or form. What’s most striking to us about the kaleidoscope artwork splashing the streets of Downtown Accra is the message of diversity, equality, and hope behind them.

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“Many artists working in and out of Accra today are directly confronting the country’s political history and social iconography—often utilizing the techniques and aesthetic influences of the West to create works purely Ghanaian in tone and message,” Christoper Bollen writes in a piece that explores the uniqueness of Ghana’s art scene and the story behind it.

Jamestown is known as one of the oldest districts in Accra. It’s where you’ll have a front-row seat to the bustling city, ocean-side views, and art from some of Ghana’s most prolific painters and drawers. It’s a historical town with a personality of its own, hosting the annual Chale Wote Street Art Festival along with other similar street festivals. If you want to get a taste of Ghana’s art scene, Jamestown is a must. It’s where I was lucky enough to visit and get my own tour of life in Accra - through paintings.

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At African Library Project, we’re all about powerful stories. Art is its own form of storytelling, a powerful one that combines past, present, and future. Whether it be through reading and breaking the cycle of youth illiteracy in countries like Ghana or creating stories with a paintbrush or stencil, people must be empowered to pursue creativity. 

Ghana’s art scene is only growing from here. Keep an eye out on young African talent that comes out of this marvelous country. They have stories to tell and we want to listen.

 

Be sure to explore more of Africa's unique art scene at websites like Okay Africa.  

A huge congratulations to Whitman Middle School located in Fairfax County, California that gathered students from the National Junior Honor Society this year and successfully created a library in Botswana with African Library Project. We're always impressed when students at home come together to empower other students. Thanks, Whitman!

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