Whether in the United States or Zambia, children who have the opportunity to spend time “exploring” the world through books at their local libraries experience greater levels of inquisitiveness and a develop a desire to learn through reading.
Sadly, in Zambia, libraries are not commonplace – especially for orphaned and abandoned children – that is unless they are fortunate enough to live at the Kabwata Orphanage and Transit Centre, supported by Bread and Water for Africa®.
While Kabwata already has a “library” that project administrator Sima Miyanda describes as “functional, but inadequate as space and material are limited.
“The Kabwata Home has had a library in existence for quite a number of years; materials are old, worn and out of date,” he told us. “We feel that the children can benefit from the mental stimulation provided by books and an enabling environment.”
On a recent trip to Zambia, Bread and Water for Africa® Executive Director Beth Tessema mentioned to Sima the possibility of providing grant funding to support the construction of a new library – not made with bricks and mortar – but built utilizing disused 53-foot shipping containers already located on the grounds of the Kabwata compound.
Beth explained that the location for the proposed library had already been identified: “It is occupied by three shipping containers which will require some movement via a forklift.
“It is our intention to make use of the same containers to form the structure of the library,” she said. “Further manipulation of the containers will require a welder/metal fabricator, an electrician and a carpenter.”
And while increasing and enhancing educational opportunities through a library filled with new books for the children and youth who call Kabwata home is worthy and admirable, Beth notes that the structure will be much more than that.
“The library is intended to also function as a social center and provide a place for extracurricular activities, skills building and training,” she says.
The project was conceived “as a means to motivate and encourage the children to student and expand their minds, provide them with a place for positive mental growth and stimulation,” and Beth added, “as a countermeasure against the influences of television and media.
“The need for the new library was identified when I observed that the children were being distracted by too much television,” she said. “On further analysis, I noticed that a number of them had limited the scope of their future to the boundaries of their Kabwata home.
“I conceived the library project as a measure to counter this attitude and encourage broader horizons and positive mindsets.
“We see the potential of the library as a resource for exposing them to a bigger world through the pages of their books and the amenities we will provide.
“We want to lay a solid foundation for their education, and the library is absolutely essential for a change in mindset.
“It is our sincere hope that this endeavor once completed would aid in boosting their mental development, expose them to a wider world, encourage them to dream big, and inspire them to not give up despite the setbacks that led them into our care.
“Ultimately, we hope through the implementation of this project the children will be better equipped to face life after they leave our care and reintegrate into society.”