Provide a Rural African Village Library with Books

by Friends of African Village Libraries (FAVL)
Vetted
The Belehede Library
The Belehede Library

The village library of Béléhédé has been up and running for six months now! It has become an extremely important resource for the villagers, most of whom had never had access to reading materials before the building of the library. Thanks to generous donations through GlobalGiving and other sources, we were able to buy a large stock of books in French, Moré, Arabic and English for the library. The Béléhédé library currently has about 750 books.

The librarian was trained by a FAVL activities facilitator for two weeks, and has enthusiastically taken up his post. He runs weekly activities with villagers, including story times and game contests. Kids and adults alike frequent the library to check out books and to play games like Scrabble and Waré (a Burkinabè game). It has truly become a center of knowledge and culture in the village.

In September 2011, FAVL was able to hold its first reading camp in Béléhédé, helping 25 primary school students improve their reading skills through group and individual tutoring sessions, informational sessions with books about malaria and HIV/AIDS and artistic activities. Since the end of the camp, the library has continued to work with the same group of elementary school students on a weekly basis to maintain their literacy skills.

Now that the Béléhédé library has a sufficient stock of books, we're ending the project. But if you would like to still contribute to Béléhédé, we have a new project to fund reading camps in all of Burkina's libraries, including this village. Thank you so much to all of donors for your generous support of FAVL projects!

Dounko with Belehede Librarian During Training
Dounko with Belehede Librarian During Training
Reading Camp 2011
Reading Camp 2011

Links:

Student Working on Syllabation
Student Working on Syllabation
During the summer reading camps of 2011, it was a common observation of the animators that a large number of the students were not able to recite the alphabet or sound out syllables to make words. At every camp, the animators had to start at zero with between 5 and 10 4th-grade-aged students who did not know the letters in the French alphabet. And the instruction of the day for all of the kids usually concentrated on putting letters together and sounding out syllables. This is a major problem for a group of students who will soon be taking their exams that determine whether they can enter into middle school. If they cannot read their lessons or what the teacher writes on the board, how can we expect them to understand the lesson and succeed in school? Unfortunately, class sizes are so big, especially in small villages in Burkina Faso, that the teachers do not have the time to help the slower students keep up. After the camps, many of the animators remarked that the kids made amazing progress during the one week of the reading camp, and if they were able to work like that all throughout the year, grades would be much higher in the classes. The librarians and animators were all encouraged to set up meetings with kids to work on their reading skills as time allowed


The librarian at Béléhédé has taken the initiative to do just that and to alleviate the problem of illiteracy amongst students early on. Working off of the information he gathered during the reading camps, this librarian decided to set up a weekly date with the 60 kids of CE2 (3rd grade) at a local primary school. In the first week, he worked on reciting the alphabet. In a note about the session, he remarked that about 50% of the kids could not do this. During the second and third weeks, he helped them recognize the vowels and consonants in the alphabet and what sound each letter makes. For the last lesson of the month, they worked on recognizing the consonants and what sounds they make in different words. In his report, he says that he saw a marked improvement in the level of the kids and hopes to continue working with them in the month of November.

Student showing off flowers from a craft session
Student showing off flowers from a craft session

A summer reading camp took place in Béléhédé from September 22th through 27th. It was the last of a successful run of reading camps throughout the months of July, August and September in village libraries in Burkina. Thanks to generous donations, we were able to hold camps at all of the libraries this year. 2011 was the first year for a camp in Béléhédé, where the village library just opened in 2010. 25 kids 4th grade students were able to participate in the camp, where they received t-shirts and daily breakfasts and lunches. Each day was filled with activities geared toward helping them improve literacy skills for the upcoming school year. There were sessions of reading with a tutor, guided reading and silent reading as well as instruction by a primary school teacher and sessions about HIV/AIDS, gender, malaria and maternal health. Dounko, a FAVL animator who helped facilitate the camp, said, "At the beginning of the week, most of the kids didn't even know the alphabet. After a couple of days, they were able to recite the alphabet and put letters together to make syllables." The feedback from students and facilitators alike has been incredibly encouraging and we hope to be able to hold such successful camps during the vacation of 2012.

Guided reading session with animator
Guided reading session with animator
Learning the alphabet
Learning the alphabet
Béléhédé Community Library
Béléhédé Community Library

I just got back from a trip up to Béléhédé to see the new library and it looks great!  We arrived in the village with a car full of books and magazines to find the library packed with children coloring and reading.  My friend Pahitiba, with who I attended a maternal and child health conference last year, was excited to tell me that she had checked out a book on HIV/AIDS and was showing it to all of the women who come into the health clinic where she works.  I was also thrilled to hear that the community was going to use some funds that they had raised to buy more school text books and pedagogical manuals for the elementary school teachers to use.  The community was effusive in their appreciation and, though I wish I could have stayed longer, I couldn't have asked for a better first visit!

Perusing the New Books
Perusing the New Books
Pahitiba and Alou (Béléhédé
Pahitiba and Alou (Béléhédé's librarian)

Links:

In the past few weeks we have received over $4,000 in funding for the Béléhédé library and secured a sponsor who has agreed to "adopt" the library for at least a year by covering the cost of the librarian's salary, which means that we are in great shape for the library's grand opening in early May!  We are making final preparations and will be purchasing books in the coming weeks.  

While I am proud of the work going on at all of the FAVL libraries, Béléhédé holds special significance for me, as the community hosted me for the first year of my Peace Corps service.  While not all of the students I worked with have been able to continue their studies at secondary school, which is located 20km away, the opening of the library means that they will all have a place where they can continue reading, learning and having fun.  I can't wait to see them all at the opening ceremony!

Links:

 

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Organization Information

Friends of African Village Libraries (FAVL)

Location: San Jose, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.favl.org
Project Leader:
Krystle Austin
San Jose, CA United States

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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