African Library Project book drive organizer and youth ambassador, Divya Prakash from California details her involvement with African Library Project and how she’s helped change lives, book by book.

My name is Divya Prakash, and I am a 15-year-old high school sophomore from Fremont, California. I’ve been involved with the African Library Project for the past 3 years. My team and I have coordinated the shipment of nearly 6,000 books to four different African nations!

Being involved with ALP has been the most rewarding experience of my life. I live in a world of books– from Anna Karenina to the history of punk rock. But I always knew that the gifts of education, language, and literature–gifts I took for granted– were scarce in many African nations. So, in the winter of 2013, a group of like-minded friends and I sought to find an organization that could help us take a small part in sharing our love for reading with others. ALP was our immediate choice. We were struck by the passion behind the project. The love that the organization showed for children, its intense passion for the cause of literacy, and its deep understanding of the African partners and African students’ lives, inspired us. So, in early 2014, we embarked on our first book drive, for the Nkrankwanta Presbyterian School in Ghana

As we began working towards our goal of 1,000 books and $500, our team dove headfirst into a large and unfamiliar world–as young middle schoolers, we did not quite know how to take charge and be proactive.  But we learned and learned.  We learned how to approach adults such as teachers, store managers, and school principals to pitch the project and ask for support.  What I remember vividly is the first time I presented the project to a large group at school–it was nerve-wracking at first–but three years and 6,000 books later, public speaking is now comfortable and even enjoyable for me.

 But what was even more refreshing than learning about our own capabilities to create change was learning about the lives of the African students, seemingly an entire world away, who was unpacking and reading the very same books that we lovingly sent them. Through ALP, I became more familiar with the geography of Africa, and how this played into the availability of resources. I learned about the low literacy levels and the immense need for books in their schools. At first, I couldn’t believe that even attending school was often problematic for African students–what is a 10-minute bus ride for me is often miles of walking for them.

Start Your Own Book Drive

Read our Book Drive Guidelines to learn all you need to know to collect, sort, pack and then mail your books to our warehouse, where they will be containerized for shipment to Africa. Your goal is to collect 1,000 appropriate books and approximately $500 for shipping and related costs. Double this and you can start two! Triple it and… you get the idea. To get ideas from other book drives — how they’ve collected their books and raised their funds.

We ship books all year round.  Our typical calendar is:

  • Ghana in February
  • Botswana in March
  • Malawi in June
  • Kenya in July
  • Uganda in August
  • Lesotho in September
  • Sierra Leone in October
  • eSwatini (Swaziland) in November