Guest blogger, Coy Cross shares his introduction to the African Library Project and how he went for a one-time book drive organizer to send over 30,000 books to African youth.
In March 2009, our friend Kay left to serve in the PeaceCorps in Lesotho, a small African country that I had not heard of before then. A few months later an e-mail from Kay invited me to join the African Library Project (an organization I also had never heard of) to create a school library for children in Lesotho who had no books.
To continue their education beyond primary school, the children must pass an exam in English, their country’s official language, but not the children’s primary language. As a kid growing up in rural Kentucky, I remembered how precious books had been to me and readily agreed. My wife, meanwhile, had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and I was her caregiver. But gathering books and asking friends for financial support was something I could do while still being available to support her. With the help of a friend, I collected hundreds of books, but some were not appropriate for a school library. I talked with a local, used bookstore owner and learned I could swap adult books for others that elementary-aged children would enjoy. So by September 2009, I had over 1,000 books and about $500 to pay for shipping to Lesotho.