The success of our original 1000 Books for Hope campaign at Mahiga Hope High School inspired us this past year to expand the program to a dozen more of our partner schools in Kenya. As with the first book drive, we invited our supporters to do something special. Instead of donating old books they didn't want or like, we asked for their favorite books, in new or gently used condition, and whenever possible, with a personal note inside about the book and the donor.
By the the fall of 2012 we'd collected 14,000 great books from individuals, families, partner schools (let's hear it for the third grade class at the Trinity School in Austin!) and from libraries as well. A giant volunteer day at the warehouse of Word of Mouth catering in Austin sorted the books according to ages and subjects for 12 partner libraries in Kenya. It was a lot of work and a ton of fun, but by the end of the day, we had the books packed, labelled and loaded onto ten shipping pallets, enough to fill a shipping container.
The following day, our U.S. shipping parnter Ceva logistics had the books ready for a U.S. customs pre-shipping inspection, and within weeks the container of books was on a ship headed through the Gulf of Mexico, across the Atlantic, through the Mediterranean Sea and the Suez Canal, and past all those Somali pirates who apparently don't know what makes for a truly precious cargo.
Last week, our great Kenyan shipping partner Freight Logix cleared the entire load through Kenyan customs without delay and brought them to Nairobi where the pallets were separated for delivery to the indiidual schools. We'll have photos of these libraries after our June working trip to Kenya, but in the meantime, the books (and some first class metal library shelves) will find great use by students of all ages at Irbaan Primary, Arambe Secondary and Jobe Polytechnic College, Kabiruini Girls Secondary, Daaba Primary, Mahiga Primary and Mahiga Hope High School, Mogaka Primary, Mutaki Primary, Kiguru Primary, Amboni Primary and Simbara Secondary (the Joe Gracey Library), Bondeni Primary and Muthuini Primary.
The largest single group - 2 full pallets of 50 boxes of books weighing 2,500 pounds - are now in storage in Maai Mahiu with our friends CTC/Comfort the Children, and will be the first books at the new CTC Knowledge and Resource Center, a very large library and computer center that will be the first library serving the community and many schools.
Thanks to everyone who donated books (including Half Price Books who donated and boxed a 1,000 great kids books for us), to everyone who contributed funds for shipping and shelving, and to all our partners along the way. We have more schools and more kids clamoring for good books, and especially for quality Kenya-certified textbooks at every grade level from 1 to 12. Your support makes all the difference.
Where there are books, there is hope.
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