September 30, 2014

Unveiling Metkei Girls High School Library - Knowledge Empowering Youth, with comments by his Excellency David Angell, Canadian High Commissioner to Kenya.

(Source: youtube.com)

September 22, 2014

Some Thoughts On Metkei Winning Third

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(caption shows Metkei students setting up the library July 2014)

At the Maktaba Awards last Friday, one of our libraries - Nairobi Primary, won first place (for the second year running). Metkei, which we donated this year, won third. I was thrilled by this, for a very important reason. When discussions arise with partners or potential partners about a new library, there is almost always to push for a ‘state of the art’ space,  and at times I think this translates as a pressure, to inject sophisticated I.T. (smart boards, reading tablets, laptops) in libraries.

What I think is so important about the library we donated to Metkei winning third place, is that it was a simple model. We kept our focus on the book lists and the design of the space. We wanted to make sure that the reading level was appropriate for the students, but also gave them room to improve and set goals. It was practical, and the I.T. consisted of only 3 computers (the stations of which we focused on internet guidance, sources for referencing, etc). This library competed against and beat libraries with much more sophisticated I.T. What made it stand out was the space, the collection, and the Metkei administration (I can’t say enough amazing things about Jennifer Kiprono, the head teacher there). So bigger isn’t always better. I have found this win so refreshing, because for us it helped drown out a lot of the noise about what is ‘needed’ in a library.

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(caption shows Jennifer Kiprono, head teacher of Metkei, accepting the Maktaba Library Award)

September 19, 2014

Ground Breaking Ceremony at Starehe Girls Center

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(caption shows Bien Aimee Baraza from Sauti Sol breaking ground for the library construction. Pictured left to right is Margaret Wanjohi, head teacher; Michael Joseph, Chairman of Safaricom Foundation; and Adil Bashirke, architect)

Today marked the inauguration of several things at Starehe. It was their first Sports Day, after Safaricom handed over sports fields and a running track to the school. It was also the groundbreaking ceremony for the library, where construction will now begin on what we know will be our best library yet.

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(caption shows sauti sol greeting Starehe Girls students)

There to help us with the groundbreaking, and also to hand over 150 books, as we always do at the beginning of all of our library projects, were our partners in the promotion of reading, Sauti Sol. Ever the library enthusiasts, and great proponents of the KEY Library Program, they also gave the girls a treat with a performance, including my favorite song, Soma Kijana.

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(caption shows Sauti Sol performing at Starehe Girls Center)

September 17, 2014

Suprise Visit to Mwendakulima

Yesterday we conducted a surprise visit to the Mwendakulima Library in Tanzania that we donated last year. We do visits like this from time to time, to see the state the library is kept in on a daily basis (when a visit is announced, a school will typically clean and organize it for your arrival). We were so happy to see that the library is in excellent condition, and clearly all of the books and equipment are being used with great care. 

September 12, 2014

Agriculture for All

There isn’t a single secondary school we have worked with to date that didn’t require its students to grow at least some of the food they ate, as well as help with the livestock they kept (this is true even at Precious Blood, located IN Nairobi).

One of the electives for secondary school students is agriculture, which at some schools, such as St. Patricks Iten and Kisaruni, is one of the most popular subjects. Even at schools where it isn’t as popular of a subject, it is almost always part of the way of life for the students when they are at home. Farming in Kenya, where possible, is always practiced (except for some tribes along the coast and bordering Somalia, where it is considered against Islam to save grain, explained very well in Nina Munks book The Idealist).

Thus, agriculture is fundamental to the way of life of a significant portion of Kenyans. In light of this, we have made a concerted effort to research and enhance our book lists pertaining to this subject, making sure this subject is representing in the libraries we donate. Right now, we are aiming to have this list of 25 books (we will be reviewing the selection we have to pick ones we think would directly benefit Kenyans). Seen in photos are some of the books we have selected for our upcoming secondary school library projects at Kisaruni, Oleleshwa, and Starehe.