Maria's Libraries

Maria's Libraries is dedicated to building and strengthening Kenya's library network. We employ a responsible method of international development, basing all of our work on sound research at the forefront of development studies. In addition, everything we do is demand driven, based on needs identified by local communities and relevant government agencies. As a non-governmental organization, we proactively seek to ensure that our work strengthens and builds upon government systems.
Feb 8, 2012

Crowdsourcing Translations for Local Languages

Wazee looking over Kiteso translations
Wazee looking over Kiteso translations

Dear Friends of Mama Mtoto,

Habari yako from Busia! 

Lots to report on Mama Mtoto from here in Busia.  In particular, the book that the Mamas in Busia published is a wild hit!  Schools and parents have started to request copies of it.  We’re hoping that the library can sell them, which can help to pay some salaries, fund another round of the Mama Mtoto project and maybe contribute towards the building of the new library.

However, as per request of some of the mamas, first we’re doing the translations over.  Since both the Samia and Teso in Busia are dialects of local languages, there are no official versions of the language.  We thought about how to get a “correct” translation in such a context, and we decided to. . . . crowd-source it! That’s right, we’re taking it to the people of Busia to contribute their translations, just like people contribute to definitions on Wikipedia.  However, this crowd isn’t on-line –we put the word out for Samia and Teso speakers from Busia to physically come to the library and help us translate.  I had the opportunity to sit with Esther for some of these translations, and it was really the highlight of my trip.   See below for pics and video of two wazee helping with the Teso translation.

We’ve talked to our colleagues in Elangata Wuas, and they are also about to reprint the new books, for sale in Maasai land.  I’m headed to Lamu and Garissa (safety permitting) next to get the scoop there as well.

So we're entering the last stretch on this project.  The last bit we're working on is to bring all the librarians back together to share lessons learned and to come up with a final document which can help librarians in other communities implement this project.  We're hoping to do that before the summer-- you assistance to make this happen is much appreciated!

As ever, asante for your support, 

Eva and Ariel  

Sep 23, 2011

Fall Update on Maria's Libraries

Librarian Esther teaches the latest story
Librarian Esther teaches the latest story

Dear Friends of Maria's Libraries Mama Mtoto Project,

As ever we have much to report!  But we'll keep our role in the report simple.  We'll tell you the status and thing bring out the voices of the participants of the Mama Mtoto Story Time Project themselves.

In Elangata Wuas, Garissa, Lamu and Busia, the Mama-Mtoto Storytime project is in its final weeks.  Not only did each site teach participating mamas to read storybooks to their children, the mamas from each site put together their own storybook based on traditional tales from their community.  Those books have been publilshed in Kenya, and are now being used in the Mama-Mtoto storytime projects.  We're currently working on getting them published in the US-- the next update will include information on that, plus the evaluation of the project!

I hope all is well with all of you,

Eva and Ariel

The mamas speak about Mama-Mtoto:

It has been very good to share with my children, reading, and now the kids get so interested they don't go so far to play, they stay close and ask me to read to them. Giving up my time to come here, is not wasting time it is valuable time.

My brain has gone to sleep completely, I would have never thought of picking up a book. But now I am awake, I want to read and my kids are also very excited they want to read more storybooks. They know now that there is a library and they will read more. The future is bright and I see reading in their future!

The mamas in Busia speak one week after they received the Busia book:

My kids kept on challenging me, you wrote this, Busia can produce a book. So they realized after a while.

My kids were asking if the books can be sold. Then their friends could buy the book, to see their moms and the story from Busia.

Can we sell some of these books to our schools? Because we have books that are not from here, and this book is from here.

Portrait of Mamas participating in Busia
Portrait of Mamas participating in Busia
The Mamas check out their self-published book!
The Mamas check out their self-published book!
Jun 24, 2011

Spring update for Mama Mtoto Story Time project

Librarians discuss plans for Mama Mtoto in Nairobi
Librarians discuss plans for Mama Mtoto in Nairobi

Dear Friends of Maria’s Libraries,

Thank you once again for your generous support of the Mama-Mtoto Story Time project.   We have much to report!

We are very pleased to let you know we kicked off the project in April with a meeting of all the librarians in Nairobi.  Jennie Glasco of AfricaSOMA, Kenya National Library Services and the US Embassy Resource Center ran the training over two days.  The librarians had a great time, discussed their ideas on the project and have begun to start working with the mamas this month.

Since then, our fabulous team has been choosing books, developing curricula and choosing participants for the project.  The librarians will officially launch the trainings this month.

Maria’s Libraries’ own Ariel Schwartz is in Kenya for the summer. In addition to Mama Mtoto, she’ll be forging ahead on several other of Maria’s Libraries’ projects-- including the building in Busia.  You'll receive a newsletter with some uber-exciting updates at the end of the summer!
Once again, thanks so much for you support and dedication to strengthening the library network in Kenya.
Many good wishes from Kenya and New York,
Eva and Ariel
Librarians at the Kitabu Kenya training in Nairobi
Librarians at the Kitabu Kenya training in Nairobi

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