Wednesday, April 8, 2015

BFA Revisited

Hel-lo dear readers, I hope this long overdue blog post finds everyone in good spirits.  I am faring well over here in Mo-Town, emotions running a *bit* high on the eve of my 40th birthday, but it's all good.  I think I can honestly say that I am content with life these days, and ready for my next decade to be supa-dupa fabulous!!
As for Toa Nafasi business, I've got lotsa good news to share, but since we're having a big goat roast chez moi tomorrow, not so much time in which to write.  You'll have to make do with the following article from about a books donation project from Nigeria until I get some time to myself to ruminate and write in earnest.
I don't know how many of you remember my "Legally Tanzanian" blog based on my experiences here as a wee volunteer and then as Program Officer in Kilimanjaro for Visions in Action, a small US-based international NGO.  Well, this article about the books caught my eye, and I thought I would share it here as it was not so long ago that I myself was receiving 40-foot containers of donated books for distribution.
I wrote a blog entry for LT about the experience back in 2011 and you can find it here:  Clearly, it was a big job to be the one and only point person for the research on-the-ground, coordination with the US partner organizations, and recipient of the bounty from the port in Dar to the long truck ride to Moshi.  God, just thinking about it makes me wince!!
At the time, I had very mixed feelings about what we were doing since the books that came in were English-language and Swahili is obviously the national language of Tanzania.  Even English-speaking Tanzanians would not have been interested in the bulk of the books that came through: e.g. John Grisham thrillers for the adults and St. Patty's Day picture books for the kids....  Not so much....
Back in the day, I did try hard to convince the Tanzanians to whom we were gifting the books that they had significance as supplementary tomes for libraries and teacher resource centers, but I'm not sure how much of my spiel was bought into....  And I'm not sure how much of it I believed myself!!
I suppose it makes more sense for a country like Nigeria whose official national language is English though I still don't see the relevance of legal thrillers and Irish holidays for the continent.  And why the Nigerians should get into cahoots with the American NGO Books for Africa to send even more English-language literature to Tanz, I've no idea, but what's done is done.
At any rate, I won't reiterate all my old beefs from that particular mission and let the old blog entry speak for itself.  On a positive note, here's a photo of a kid who happened to be at the regional block on one of the unloading days and clearly found something that interested him, which is after all, the name of the game, si ndiyo?!
Until next week.... be well!!
Nigeria: Offor's Foundation, BFA Donate Books to Tanzania Schools
The Sir Emeka Offor Foundation (SEOF), a non-governmental, philanthropic organization focused on youth employment, widows cooperatives, education, healthcare, and infrastructural development, last week delivered a total of 20,000 academic books to five secondary schools plus a university and a primary school in the Bagamoyo region of Tanzania.
The initiative is part of its continuing effort to promote literacy in the African continent.  UNICEF had reported Tanzania's total adult literacy rate is 67.8 percent.
Since 2010, the Emeka Offor Foundation has partnered with Books For Africa (BFA), a United States-based nonprofit organization, to fight illiteracy and promote education.
Their combined efforts are aimed at ensuring African schools and libraries - including those in hard to reach communities - are sufficiently equipped with reading materials.
"Our partnership with BFA is paying great dividends and I am happy that we can help provide access to books for as many children as possible in our continent," said Offor, who added that "without education, people cannot provide solutions to their problems."
So far, the Emeka Offor Foundation has underwritten the shipment of more than 73 40-foot containers of books and computers to approximately 19 African countries, including Nigeria and Tanzania.
The estimated financial value for this logistical effort is estimated at $18 million.
"Over 99 percent of schools in Tanzania have inadequate or non-existent libraries, which are an essential asset of a school, so we are using the donated books to open a doorway that provides students a chance to explore knowledge," said Charles W. Sloan, Jr., the Manager of Nianjema Secondary School.
"The impact of this donation on the lives of these students is immense.  It is wonderful that someone from the other side of the African continent can use his time and money to help others so far away in such a dramatic way."
Getting books to some regions in Africa can be fraught with logistical challenges along the delivery route, particularly when it comes to security and hazardous roads.  A successful delivery is often a cause for celebration for schools and communities.
"Our school libraries are really lacking books, so this is big for us," said Sloan.
BFA relies on the generosity of donors, young and old, business entities and publishers who flood their massive warehouse in Atlanta with books that cover all areas and levels of education.  In addition, BFA depends on their growing volunteer team to effectively sort and repackage donated materials for onward distribution to African countries.  According to BFA, the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation is the single largest independent African donor to their organization since their inception.

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