Dear friends of African Library Project,

I’m back from my 5 week sojourn in Uganda and thought that I should let you know what I did and what I saw while I was there. And perhaps tell you a little bit about myself.

I met two key people, Cathy Kreutter, a former librarian and trainer of librarians as well as an author, and Aaron from Enjuba, one of our partners in Uganda. Cathy helped me to visit some key places and Ritah Nalera, another friend from Uganda helped me to visit some others.

While I was with Cathy, we visited Enjuba’s new location and where we met with Aaron.  We also toured the new school and the room where they stage the libraries that are being delivered.

We then went to visit Cornerstone Leadership Academy (Girls) and the ALP library there.  This is a senior school and the library is effectively using Koha. I was particularly interested in how that is working. I was also able to see the library log and the library itself. 

Later, we went to Ektingaala Primary School Library where Cathy was doing a training for the teachers. This library is not on the electrical grid and depends on a gas generator to power the projector that she used. It was truly an amazing experience.

I don’t have many photographs because the sun went down and it was quite dark.

The next day we visited Ektingaala Transformation High School Library which is very well used and quite small for the size of the school.

We then went on to visit Cornerstone Academy and that library as well as the location of two community schools which will be applying for ALP book collections.

Later in the week I was able to visit Uganda Christian University and their libraries which also use Koha and then we visited Monica Ntenge and the library at St. Peter’s Church of Uganda. This visit was during the week and so I missed the students using it.

The next week I was privileged to visit Dendans Junior School and explain the process for applying for an ALP library through Enjuba.

Toward the end of my time I visited Love Through Literacy Community Library which received a few books that Enjuba had left over from their delivery during the COVID 19 Pandemic Lockdown.

My introduction would not be complete without mentioning how I discovered African Library Project.  In 2014 I was induced to go to Uganda to a small, rural village named Bukeka where an organization called Global Hands of Hope was starting a Primary School called “Suubi” meaning “Hope.” I had been asked to go to teach the teachers for a week before they began their school year.  The important thing I offered them was an opportunity to read aloud, which they had never done. The important thing that I came away with was that they had no library or books for their students to read. I came back to the USA determined to figure out a way to get a library to them. I did. But along the way I discovered three important organizations, African Library Project, Libraries of Love, and Books for Development, all of which send books to Uganda. 

Suubi has had a library since 2018 and I have returned to teach the teachers several times. We’ve discussed the importance of libraries, how to read aloud, how to use songs and music to teach literacy, what is a fiction book, what is a non-fiction book, how to use the library for research and how to use books to provide books for students to read. The library is most student’s favorite place in the school. Here are some snapshots taken this year when school began again after a two-year hiatus. 

This year the teachers spent a week exploring the new books, learning text features and the difference between fiction and non-fiction books.  They explored how to browse a book and non-fiction text features.  They learned characteristics of encyclopedias, atlases, dictionaries, and thesaurus’.  When asked what he had learned, one teacher replied, “ the training so much changed by way of reading and research methods.  All I knew at first is that any book is read from the beginning whether fiction or non-fiction, now I know that if I am looking for a particular information from a book.”  He was referring to looking for information in a non-fiction book by looking at the index and table of contents instead of reading the entire book.

Some important things the teachers and I have learned.  Having the students read really does improve their English and their Reading Skills.  100 % of the students have passed their exit exams and have gone on to Senior School.  This is in a village where very few adults have finished primary school.  Second, everyone loves to have books read to them.  The students love it and the teachers love it!

About me, I’m married to a priest and active in my Episcopal Parish and in children’s formation called the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.  I have a MA in Reading and Language Development and a Reading Specialist Credential.  I am credentialed K – grade 12 and have taught most elementary grades as well as being a teacher of teachers.  Most recently, I went back to school to become a librarian in a middle school.  I have been retired for 4 years.  I’ve developed 4 or 5 collections of books to send to Africa as well as Suubi’s entire library which continues to be updated.  I am excited about becoming a Container Manager and learning more about Lesotho and other African countries.