Books4cause is an online bookstore with a social mission to provide economic opportunities through education.  

Of paramount importance for myself as the President of Books4Cause is not only to know that we are doing good in the world but to see it first hand. 

This year Books4cause has donated over thirteen thousand books to thirteen different libraries in cities and villages near Gaborone, the capital of Botswana.  On a recent trip to Botswana, I saw first hand some of the many facets involved in making these libraries happen.  It is definitely a team effort that extends across many levels.   

My father (the cameraman) and I set out on our African adventure in order to visit some of the libraries. My father is from South Africa so we decided to start our trip in Johannesburg. The beginning of our trip was all about finding our bearings, visiting some family, and preparing for our trip to Botswana.  

One of the aspects I have grown to love about The African Library Project is their steady commitment to making these libraries live on in perpetuity. It became clear that this is happening due to the the engagement and involvement of the many layers of the community; from the government, the teachers, the parents, and the children.  

We first visited some of the libraries that were recently launched. I was thoroughly impressed with the layout and structure of each library.  They all had a cultural center highlighting their rich culture, an HIV/Aids area, a resource center, and a current events center.  The books were neatly organized into the various categories and the students were very familiar with the layout. The children were very proud to show us around the libraries and I was very impressed with their reading abilities.

The next day we toured five other libraries that have been in operation for a number of years. Here we saw the critical parental involvement.  Each library has a parent volunteer that keeps up the administrative work.  They showed me a ledger that dated back to the beginning of the library in 2007.  Each entry had been entered and saved across multiple notebooks.   

The children were so sweet and polite, and the staff were so kind and helpful.  They were very open to us popping in to any class to take pictures and video.  This way we were able to get a really good feel for the schools.  Botswana has a strong governmental involvement in the children’s education.  All of the buildings were in good condition and the children were served a free lunch daily.

Of course with any project of this magnitude and complexity there are definitely areas of improvement.   I see the need for a working media center with educational games and a new supply of books.  After many years of use some of the books showed a lot of wear and tear.  Some students complained that they have already read all of the books in the library and want more.  I guess this is a good problem to have.  

I realize how many people it takes to make this all possible. From ALP to the men and women on the ground, to the parents, and the students.  We are happy and proud to play a part in nourishing the dreams of these young children.  I sincerely hope that our book donors know how impactful their donations are.  This trip has inspired me to do more and to continue with our mission even in the face of difficult challenges.

Guest blog by Yosef Lifchitz, President and Founder of Books4Cause. Books4Cause has started 35 libraries with ALP.