Books. I love them. As far back as I can remember they have always been a big part of my life. They helped me to become the master vocabularian that I am today. Prior to embarking on this journey, Tyler and I had some important choices to make at the Half Price Books store in Greenwood. Which pieces of classic literature did we want to tackle on our respective furlongs into the world. There were so many choices at our fingertips for very little money. I think we both ended up choosing about five each. We got some Dostoevsky, Dumas, and some others that now escape my memory. Anyways the point is that we have always had easy access to liturature of all kinds. Upon arriving at Icaciri Secondary School I was somewhat dismayed to find that finding books would be difficult. There is a room on the school compound labeled library, but upon further inspection all that it had were shelves on the walls. Not a single bit of printed material in the room. This made me a bit sad, but I figured Oh well, I will just borrow books from the other YAVs. This was all fine and dandy for a while. Then I noticed a desire to read in the school. Every time I would pull out a book to read I would have students and staff asking me to "assist them" with the book so that they can read it next. Unfortunately I could not always say yes due to the fact that many of them were just loans to me. Over the past few months I began to really think about this predicament. The students want to read books but don't have access. The staff want to read books but don't have access. Then it hit me. Lets figure out a way to get the school access to reading material. Easy right. Wrong. I found a makeshift library in the local town that seems to use books that the customers bring in as collateral. So in order to check out a book, you must first put down one of your own as a deposit plus pay the fee to check out a book. To utilize this option would take a lot of logistics figuring, such as where the money and collateral should come, plus how to get the books to the students or the students to the books. While taking some time to try to figure this out I began buying cheap books where I could find them, either for the students to read directly or to use as deposits for the Gatundu library. I presented some ideas at a staff meeting, and we even formed a Reading Club committee. Very Presbyterian right? I went to the primary school next door to talk to the principal there about ideas. I saw on his desk a new hardback copy of The Poisonwood Bible, which I remember well from junior year at Shelbyville High School(thanks Mrs. Learned, maybe thats what gave me the Africa bug.) I asked him where he got it and he said that a former student who has done well for himself had mailed some boxes of books to his school and even a box to mine. Nobody had mentioned this to me before, or even seemed to know about it. I did some digging and true enough I found a box of fairly new books under a pile of stuff in a store room. I took these to my apartment to try to catalogue somehow. This happened on Wednesday of this week. Seeing as this weekend was the midterm break I thought it would be great for the students to be able to take a book home to read if they wanted during the four day weekend. After a lot of help from a few teachers and some scrambling I was able to pull a library together on Friday. We gathered about 80 fiction books, and found tons of old reference books to put on the shelves.(Mostly all discarded text books from America in the 70's) Gotta finish this blog quickly, the coffee shop I am in is shutting down. Long story short we put a makeshift library together, and had 40 students check out a book in the half hour we had the library open. We will get it more organized next week, but hey its a start. I am brainstorming ideas to make it bigger and better so let me know if you have any ideas. I'll update you in the future about the library/ reading club happenings.
P.S. This weekend we had a retreat in which we stayed at a Benidictine Monastary. Very Peaceful