As you all know, my name is Emilie and I’m currently serving in the Peace Corps as a Girls Education and Empowerment volunteer in the village of Pobe-Mengao in Burkina Faso, West Africa.
After teaching at the school, speaking to villagers, students, teachers and other functionaries, one thing has become quite clear: Pobe Mengao needs a library.
With no electricity, students are forced to study by the light of lanterns. Since not every family can afford lanterns, it’s common to find nightly study sessions at someone's home, with children sitting or lying on mats on the ground to study. Students also do not have textbooks, since neither the families nor the school can afford enough for the 100-plus students per class, so students study only with the notes that they quickly and vigorously copy from the blackboard. The library, which ideally would have solar panels, would offer students a place to study late into the night.
A library, open to the entire community, would provide plenty of interesting, educational and fun reading materials for all. It would offer students and villagers the opportunity to read books like novels, biographies, non-fiction (in French and in local languages) and learn more about the world outside their village. The literacy rate in Burkina is 28%, with women it falls to 16%. In the library an area would be created to hold literacy classes. This would give the villagers, especially women, an opportunity for education and knowledge that could greatly increase their overall lifestyle in areas like nutrition, health and economic status.
If enough money is raised, Friends of African Libraries, a non-profit based in California, would help manage and oversee the library, promoting sustainability. They would advise on the needed materials (books, furniture, latrine) and help oversee its progress. But more importantly they would oversee budgeting, making sure the librarian is paid and the donated money is put to correct use. FAVL will help if I am able to raise $10,000 (at least $5,000 of which is to ensure its sustainability for at least 5 years). It's a lot of money, but I’m optimistic it can be done. With the economy in its current state, money is tight. However, in Burkina, a little goes a long way. For example:
10$ - Covers the purchase of 2 new African novels or other reading materials
$50 – Pays for the six month subscription of a nationally-read newspaper for the library
$100- Covers the librarian's salary for a month
$500 – Pays for the purchase of bookshelves, tables and chairs
$1,200 – Covers the cost and installation of solar panels for a library
Donate by mail with a check to:
Friends of African Village Libraries
P.O Box 90533
San Jose, California 95109-3533
Be sure to earmark the check to Pobe -Mengao
(Canadian Donors, please see side bar for a Canadian address)
For more information visit http://www.favl.org/
The community of Pobe Mengao will contribute 25% of the funds. They have already contributed a building for the library and when the time comes much of their contributions will be done through manual labor.
In addition we'll ask for money through grants but any contribution, large or small, will help immensely. Updates on fundraising and the library project will be kept on the blog. So please help Pobe Mengao have a library. For the sake of the villagers, for the sake of the students and for the sake of education!
Top photo: The library commitee:
(L to R) Konfe Hamidou: President du APE (Association Parents d' Eleves)
Konfe Inoussa: Conseiller de la Mairie
Emilie Crofton, Peace Corps Volunteer
Monsieur le Prefet de Pobe Mengao
Bottom photo: possible location of the future library!