A school in Kenya has only 20 books in its library to serve 410 students. It is waiting for 950 donated books, currently being collected at the California Elementary School.
Through Nov. 17, the African Library Project will collect used children's books. During the two-week collection period, several fundraisers have been held inside the elementary and middle schools to reach the nearly $750 expected for postage.
The book drive began with nearly 300 books, pulled out of classrooms and libraries before the beginning of the school year. Rather than throw them away, a custodian asked Nicki Kelley if she would organize another drive for the African Library Project.
The California schools have started nine African Libraries, even receiving national recognition several years ago.
Primary school education is free in Kenya. But many schools charge fees for supplies, according to the African Library Project. All subjects are taught in English in secondary schools.
In Kenya, the African Library Project is in its second year and works with Rongo University College and Project Humanity to establish primary school libraries that also serve the community. The partnership works in the southwest area of Kenya, near Lake Victoria.
Donated books are sorted by shape, to allow for the most efficient packing. The only books that may not be sent were electronic books, coloring books or those that are damaged.
English is the primary educational language in the schools receiving the donations, Kelley explained.
"These poor teachers are teaching with no books; we just can't imagine that," the speech/language pathologist said.
In addition to supplying the matched school in Kenya with books, the California schools have committed to completing book collections for other schools who could not reach their quota, Kelley said.
Because books are so heavy, it will cost up to $500 to mail the boxed books to New Orleans, Louisiana. Then, it will take another $250 to cover transportation to Africa.
The middle school held a raffle for gift cards as a fundraiser. Teachers at the elementary school donated $5 to wear jeans for a week. And elementary students may donate $1 for the chance to win a pizza.
Further donations to cover the postage costs are welcome.
"We would love for the community to get involved," Kelley said.