Monday, September 26, 2011

Summer Reading Camp at the Pobe-Mengao Library

From September 8th – September 13th, the Pobe-Mengao library had its first ever summer reading camp for primary school students. The week-long camp consisted of 25 4th graders (13 girls, 12 boys) randomly chosen from a class of 86. The camp’s goal was to help improve the students’ reading levels in a fun and welcoming environment. Sessions included reading activities, peer tutoring, storytelling, arts and crafts, song and dance, sports, instruction, and discussions on health, HIV/AIDS, malaria and life skills. 

There were a couple decent readers but the rest were at an incredibly low-level. Five of the students could not read, write or recite the alphabet. The camp was led by Dounko the FAVL animator, Hamidou the librarian, myself, an assistant and one of the primary school teachers. The teacher was awesome and really worked closely with the students. Each of his lessons reflected errors he witnessed the students making throughout the day. We conducted evaluations—individual reading tests before and after the camp—and during the last tests we could see much improvement in the students. It was hard not to get emotional when Daouda, with a huge smile on his face, proudly recited the entire alphabet without error for the first time. As happy as I was, it was frustrating. I really only spent a total of about an hour or two with him individually, so that he understood the alphabet. It’s upsetting to think that at 12 years old, he’s been held back at has had such a disadvantage in school simply because no one took the one or two hours necessary to help him.

I thought the camp staff worked really well together. The teacher, Mr. Sawadogo, was awesome! His instruction sessions were straightforward, informative, and he made sure that his lessons focused on reading/grammar/spelling errors he noticed the students frequently making that very day. I was also pleased with Hamidou, the librarian. He is still relatively new and has a lot to learn but his efforts, hard work and motivation are obvious. During the beginning of the camp he seemed a little nervous about poking fun of himself, not wanting to lose respect in front of the children. But by the middle of the camp he was dancing and singing along with the children. 

Throughout the week we had frequent visitors: parents, functionaries, older students, the Mayor and the Prefect. All came to witness the camp and offer words of encouragement. It was obvious that the community was really happy with the camp and are already asking that it continues every summer.
Asides from the camp, the library is doing very well. The building is in good shape, Hamidou has planted more plants and flowers and he has adopted a new kitten that lives in the library. Since the most popular library books are the “Aya de Yopougon” comic book series, the kitten is aptly named Aya de Pobe-Mengao.

A happy reader; Dounko reading a story to the kids

 Pobe-Mengao Library, inside and out, during the reading camp.
Aya de Pobe-Mengao, who loves to sit/sleep on top of book.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Happy Birthday Pobé-Mengao Library!

On April 6th, 2011 The Pobé-Mengao Library celebrated its one year anniversary. We are extremely happy and very proud of how it has been running so far. Out of all the FAVL libraries in Burkina Faso, Pobé-Mengao is the second most visited library and the second highest in library subscriptions.

Here is a video we made about the library with students, villagers and officials of the Pobé-Mengao community. The library is off to a great start, but as the speakers will point out, there are still many things lacking (only 734 books!) and still much to be done.

The success of the Pobé library is due in large part toYOUR continued support. Help continue this success! Your donation will help us increase the number of library books and add more furniture to keep up with The Pobe-Mengao Library’s growing number of visitors.

Donate now!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pobe-Mengao Library Update

The Pobe-Mengao Library

SANOU Dounko, FAVL’s regional activities coordinator, recently came to Pobe-Mengao for 2 weeks to train the future librarian of Belehede (a village about 65Km from Pobe).

In addition to the librarian training, Dounko worked extensively with Hamidou, Pobe’s librarian, on organization and new activities to do at the Pobe library.

After the training I met up with Dounko in Ouaga to get an update on the library’s progress as well as plenty of new pictures.

Overall, Dounko says the library is doing very well. Everyday more than one hundred people come in and out of the library to read, study, play games or do activities. The people of Pobe were incredibly kind and welcoming, and when he announced his departure two weeks later, they protested with tears in their eyes. It was very hard, Dounko says, for him to leave.

During the course of the two weeks Dounko showed Hamidou how to improve and do numerous activities including arts and crafts, reading, tutoring, theatre and storytelling.

Arts and crafts to decorate the library

The two also went together to the different schools to publicise the library and, with the younger classes, do a training on the proper care and maintenance of library books. Dounko says that very evening the library had 23 new members.

How to care for a library book; Hamidou in CP1 classroom

In April the Pobe Library will be one year old! As for the library’s overall development, three words: slowly but surely! With the addition of Pobe’s new private secondary school, the library's study room is constantly full of older students using the blackboard to practice school lessons, especially math. Trees and plants were planted out front,the ‘his and her’ latrines are nearly complete and to my absolute delight, Hamidou had a local villager paint a beautiful Reading Tree on the library wall. The Library committee met during Dounko’s visit and plan to have committee members and volunteers each donate 100 mud bricks to fix the library’s surrounding wall.

The beautiful Reading Tree; members of the Pobe library committee

There are now more than 750 books in stock, which is still not very much. With your continued donations and support we plan on buying more books, especially the titles frequently asked for by library visitors. The most popular books continue to be African Literature—books written by African authors on topics that resonate with readers.

Young readers are still asking for more educational books on topics including African culture, health, relationships, family planning and HIV/AIDS. Dounko told me how a female student approached him and explained how much having access to books on HIV/AIDS has taught her. With these books she learned the truth about the HIV virus, de-mything false facts that she once believed. “I learned so much,” she told Dounko. “It totally changed my views and gave me a new appreciation of those suffering with AIDS.”

In to the library to study...or relax and do puzzles

Because of the vast amount of visitors, there have been complaints that there is not enough time/space to conduct library activities. Hamidou has invited several people to volunteer in the library once or twice a week to help organize activities. If a particular person stands out, we’re planning on hiring him or her as an assistant who will come weekly to do activities.

Reading stories with Dounko; Hopscotch Alphabet

Our big goal is still to be able to have solar panels on the roof, so students and readers can stay at the library even after dark. Also here at FAVL, we are reaching out to individuals, organizations, etc for a great project called Adopt-a Library. With about $1,200 you can adopt a FAVL library (like Pobe-Mengao’s!) for one year. Money goes toward library maintenance, new books and organization of library activities. I will post more details about the project soon!

Pobe librarian KONFE Hamidou reading a story; Pobe's future librarian?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Library growing

It's been more than seven months now since the opening of the Pobe-Mengao library. In these past few months, the library has continued to grow and grow.

There are now nearly 750 books in stock.

Hamidou, the librarian, says that the months of August and September were fairly slow, as teachers and students were on vacation and villagers were out cultivating in the fields. With the start of the new school year, however, October has been a whole different story.

This year the secondary school is transitioning into a lycee. A new primary school just opened as well as a new private secondary school. New schools mean more students, which has led to an increased attendance and participation in the library. Since October Hamidou says the library has been getting 100+ visitors a day!

African literature continues to be the most popular reading; authors Fatou Keita,
Amadou Hampate Ba and Camara Laye being the favorites. Chinua Achebe's Le monde s'effondre(Things Fall Apart) is another book frequently checked out.

As for the children, comic books, especially the Aya de Yopougon series, are still the most popular. The library has Aya 1 through 5 and none of the books are ever in the library for long. The minute one Aya is returned, it is immediately checked out again.

Hamidou also says some of the most checked out items include informational books regarding sex, sexuality, women's empowerment and HIV/AIDS, which is obviously a great thing to hear. A lot of these topics are still sensitive, taboo and difficult to talk about, but that doesnt mean people dont have questions. At least the library is a place where they can easily and comfortably find answers.

The goal for the Pobe library is to become a community gathering place and it is well on its way. In addition to reading, numerous villagers, children and functionaires come to the library to do puzzles and play local games including lido, ware and cards.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Opening ceremony of the Pobe Mengao library!

Bibliotheque Villageoise de Pobe Mengao is now officially open! The opening ceremony was held on April 6th, 2010. The ceremony itself was short and sweet, with several speeches, traditional dancing, an official tour and of course, feasting! Everyone was really curious, impressed and excited about the new library.

Since its opening the library is getting more and more visitors, the vast majority being students (which is obviously a great thing). Every day they come to sit and read or play with the puzzles/games.Hamidou has already begun doing activities, like reading and story telling.

The library consists of the main reading room, an outdoor, enclosed, back-patio game area; a front outdoor hangar area, and a study room complete with chalkboard and tables for students. There is the cultural room, where we plan to keep all sorts of artifacts, books, research materials on the Korumba culture (still in the works) and a storage room. We still have lots of work, areas of improvement in the future.

Its been great seeing the students come in, grab a book and sit down to read. Their reading levels are not where they should be, and Im hoping the library will be able to improve this, even improve their overall grades.

New library members checking out books...and bringing them home

Donkui, Adama and myself during the opening ceremony