2013/10/14 Leave a comment
Though I lived for 2 years in Chalata, the area I served most was Ntekete, just a few kilometers to the northeast. Fortunately, I’ve been replaced by another Peace Corps Volunteer, Patricia. Patricia lives in a different location, within Ntekete, and has continued working on projects I helped start, in addition to many new projects. I’d like to take this time now to tell you about the Library/Community Resource Center Patricia is working on.
The Library is currently being constructed adjacent to the Ntekete School. The school is a simple building with mud-brick walls and a grass roof. There are no books, and even if they had books, where would they keep them so they’re safe from the rain, termites and rats? Believe me, rats and termites will chew through anything if given half a chance! I think we all see the need for books in education. This summer I had the privilege of spending some time with my 2-year old nephew and it seems he already has more books than most children in Ntekete will ever have in their whole life! English is the official language of Zambia and it is required for students to learn English. However, the reality is that most students only gain a rudimentary understanding of the English language. With Bemba being the only language spoken at home and with few to no books to read, it’s not hard to see why learning English in the village is so hard. However, these people are subsistence farmers and now pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers are becoming available. If you have ever used these any of these products you will understand the importance of following the directions – directions that, even in Zambia, are written in English. That’s just one of example of many as to why the ability to read the official language is important.
In addition to holding books for the school, the Library will also provide material that focuses on conservation farming, agroforestry, nutrition, malaria and HIV/AIDS, among others. Though many adults can not read, there are several that can, and, if resources are available, the opportunity for farmers teaching other farmers, villagers teaching other villagers will arise. I remember one Wednesday morning with the Ntekete Farmer’s Club. One young man had bought a book from me the week before and was telling the others about what it said and how it was a very good book. It brought joy to my heart knowing that he’d actually been reading the book, and then was sharing the information he had learned to help others improve their gardening. That’s how knowledge is spread – from person to person. Currently, villagers don’t have access to any library… or the interne (in case you forgot they don’t have power, running water or computers).
The Recourse Center will also be a building that different community groups can use. There will be 3 rooms – one main room for general use with chalk board and permanent shelves. In the back there will be 2 smaller rooms. One will be an office store room while the other will be a general store room with wooden lock boxes for different groups to keep supplies for the meetings and workshops. For example, the Chalata Rural Health Clinic will be able to leave a scale and other supplies in a lock box for their frequent under-5 clinics when they weigh and asses the health of children.
I hope I’ve been able to share with you part of my excitement for this project. There is a real need, and, for me, it’s personal. I love the men and women of Ntekete and I know this is a building that will be well-used, much appreciated and benefit the entire community for years to come. However, this project is only possible with YOUR help! Many community members are providing all the labor, free of charge, but Patricia is asking for donations to purchase building materials. So far, $3,500 has been raised, but another $2,500 is needed to complete this project. If you’ve ever wanted to reach out to malnourished children in Africa. If you’ve ever wanted to help teach someone to read. If you’ve ever wanted to make a positive impact in Africa, here is a great opportunity for you! Your money will go directly to the construction of the Library/Resource Center.
If you would like to give, please send me an email to:
Though here in Livingstone I have better access to a computer and email than Patricia, please feel free to also contact her with any questions about this library project:
A big thank you to all that have already contributed, and thank you to all that are considering sending a contribution! I will try to send frequent updates as the building progresses. For now, here are a few pictures of the school and beginning of the Library.