Monday, 26 October 2015

Special books for children with special educational needs.

Getting the right book into the hands of a child is key to help them engage with books and develop a love of reading.

As part of Global Literacy Day in September our team in Kitwe, Zambia spent the day with children at Roca Nkana School  - a school for children with special educational needs. We brought along lots of books kindly donated by UK publisher Usborne. The multi-sensory books are especially designed for children with special needs.

Despite a wide community need, Roca Nkana School has few pupils because of limited classroom space, and very few resources. 
Mr Chilufya & school staff 

Head teacher Mr Chilufya believes every child should have an opportunity to receive an education so he converted a nearby old dilapidated building into self-contained learning units. These offer those crucial quiet spaces for children with special needs. The units have easy access, safe and clean toilets, a kitchen to help the children learn to cook (an essential life skill), a TV room with educational resources and a quiet lounge area for resting. Mr Chilufya hopes that this will encourage more children with special needs to come to school regularly and also give their parents the confidence to encourage them have an education.

Monica Mulenga, who runs our Book Bus project in Kitwe met several of the pupils whilst visiting the school and takes up their stories.

“We met with Jacob a 13-year old boy who since starting school has learnt to draw objects. He can identify and tell a story from a picture. Jacob is still learning how to write but his greatest achievement is that he can now walk back home unaccompanied. Home is actually very near the school, but he has to take a much longer route home around Kitwe as the noise and distractions on the shortest direct route would be too much for him to cope with. The books brought by the Book Bus have really given him lots more confidence to deal with new and challenging experiences’, says Monica. 

Jacob & Mwila love their new books 

Monica also met 12-year old Mwila. 

“Mwila is a very shy child and won’t look you straight in the eye. To our surprise he was very excited to receive books and said he only stayed in school today because he saw Book Bus George”, continues Monica. 

“He enjoyed the Usborne book “Hide and Seek”, having fun flipping the little gate to find a pig hiding. ‘Look, there’s another pig behind the gate! The others are drinking water,’ Mwila shouted out as he became engrossed in the book. 

“Mwila has learned how to cook from his life skill class and being the first child of four he happily takes over the kitchen daily to cook for his siblings while his mother is at work.

“At the end of the Book Bus sessions we left a full box of engaging and useful books that we know the children will understand, learn from and love. We will continue to support this very special school in Kitwe with more Book Bus visits from our local team” concludes Monica. 

If you're interested in helping us continue our work with children with special educational needs you can donate at visiting our website 

UK Volunteers needed to help the Book Bus

​We need you...

Do you have a few hours to spare each week? Our UK office is looking for volunteers to help keep the wheels of the Book Bus go round and round! 

We looking for help with general office duties, research, education outreach work and marketing. Opportunities are wide and varied and past volunteers have come from all walks of life and spread across many generations! 

We currently have 4 vacancies 

  • a. Office Admin Support: Our office is based in Hackney in East London and we're looking for someone who can volunteer at least one day a week 
  • b. Fundraising Volunteer: This roles offers volunteers the opportunity to work from home (anywhere in the UK) or in our London- based office. 
  • c. Marketing and Social media: Can you help get our message out there? It's hard work but fun and you'll really be contributing to keeping the charity on the global map of literacy. You can work from home or in our London based office - the choice is yours! 
  • d. Education and outreach worker. Can you help build our new UK schools programme? 

For more information 

Visit our website and tab along to "Volunteering in the UK'

Pop us an email

Pick up the phone and let's have a chat on 0208 099 9280

Books... food for the brain.

It was a busy busy summer at our Reading Mentor project in Mangochi, Malawi.  

We teamed up with UK charity School Aid and delivered more than 18,000 books and other educational resources to 10 local schools in the Lake Malawi area.

The books arrived in a huge container after travelling more than 5,000 miles by sea from the UK to the port of Beira, Mozambique and another 500 miles onward by road across the border to Malawi.

The 20 foot container was packed full of books and other educational resources kindly donated by UK schools and publishers as part of School Aid’s book partnering programme.

With only four hours to offload 18 pallets of 800+ boxes of books, the whole Book Bus team set to work accompanied by a huge, willing and enthusiastic team of local children from the nearby village.

We quickly set up a book carrying production line and managed to offload all the books within 3.5 hours.

Whilst the children were waiting for the next pallet to offload, they sat under trees and couldn’t resist a sneak preview of the books. For many of these children books are a rare site.

Joseph Makwakwa runs local community group CISER said: 

“Lack of good quality engaging books presents us with a real challenge in Malawi. If a school has a library at all (and very few do)  they are often full of outdated books with no relevance to the children. These books from School Aid will make a real difference. We have English text books, dictionaries, science books and reading books. Partnerships like School Aid and the Book Bus are fantastic as they work together to help communities access good quality relevant books. This really will help promote a reading culture. A big thanks goes out to everyone who has donated and helped.

The fact that almost every child from the local village turned out to help carry the books shows our real and genuine commitment. Zilkomo!” exclaimed Joseph.

Every child who helped carry the books received a pencil and exercise book to take to school in the new academic year. After the shipment was offloaded, our Book Bus librarian Rhoda got to work cooking the largest pot of Nsima (a local and very popular Maize dish) the world has ever seen to share a special meal with the children to say thanks.

Food for the belly,  food for the brain - a lovely  combination.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Books, books, everywhere books...

“It’s absolutely beautiful –bright colours, lots of great artwork and full of fantastic books. ”

That’s how one student summed up her feelings as she stepped foot in latest Book Bus community library.  Located in Livingstone, Zambia, Maanu Mwambi Community library flung its doors open this month to more than 500 school children and the local community.
A beautiful new Book Bus library for the children of Maanu Mwambi school

The story on our latest library build began in February 2015, when Hampshire based Secondary School, Cams Hill, approached The Book Bus looking to fund a project as part of their ‘Freedom To Dream’ programme.

We identified Maanu Mwambi School in Livingstone as the perfect partner. We had strong links with the community with our reading mentor programme and the children had already developed a real enthusiasm for reading. In June we agreed that a new library would be a real positive boost for the schools literacy programme and also help the community develop a reading culture.  Ideally we wanted the library build, finished and opened before the rainy season began in November. 

The walls are built from local bricks

From the very start of the project, the whole community became involved and local suppliers were used in every aspect of the build. Foundations were dug and handmade bricks were made from the soil of termite mounds and baked in a nearby kiln to form the library walls.

A local painter was tasked with making the library as colourful as possible. Of course, Book Bus yellow was the favourite colour. Vibrant bunting was made from locally-produced fabrics and hung across the ceilings under the watchful eye of Book Bus co-ordinator Kelly Geoghegan. Multi-coloured furniture and shelves all added to the friendly and welcoming feel. The aim was to make the library as inviting and fun as possible so that the children would want to spend their time there discovering the wonderful world of books.  
The children helped stock their library 

The books are sorted
In September thousands of books began to arrive, kindly delivered by our own Book Bus – George. The Grade 7 students from Maanu Mwambi offered to unload the books and our Book Bus librarians, Claudia, Jackline and James took charge cataloguing and sorting everything. The Book Bus recruits people from the local community to help in the library as volunteers and to train them as reading mentors. Some of the older children were also given the opportunity to receive training on how to organise and run the library themselves.

In October, the dream had become a reality and the library was officially opened. Hundreds of students and their parents turned out to see the cutting of the tape. As a special prize, 10 children from each class were chosen to be the first to experience the new library. The children couldn’t contain their excitement when they walked in and took no time in diving straight in to read their new books.
Celebrations on the opening day 

Livingstone's new bookworms..

Building libraries in schools and communities such as Maanu Mwambi provides real opportunities for children to read and improve their literacy skills. Books are powerful  and being able to read helps unlock the potential  of children.

This will open their eyes to the world around them and empower them to pursue their own dreams.

But we need your help too.

Give a donation to keep the doors of Maanu Mwambi library stay open