Concept: To provide rural kids with books and materials intended to educate and entertain
Location: St. Jude’s Catholic Church Hall in Amuzi, Mbaise, Imo State, Nigeria
Collaborator: The Eze Cletus and Ugoeze Dorathy Oparaoji Memorial Education Foundation (ECUDOMEF).
Planning/Goals.: The idea and motivation for doing a book drive donation was inspired by Alexandra Nwigwe (Oparaoji granddaughter), and impromptu planning was done by Prof. Viola Onwuliri. Prof Viola Onwuliri, my parents (Engr George and Dr. Mrs Genevieve Nwigwe) and Engr. Kennamdi Onwuliri helped make this idea come to life by providing various resources, posters, and space/location for the event to happen. Mr. and Mrs. Aloy Onuoha provided and maintained a guideline for giving out the books.
The goal of the book drive donation was to use Alexandra’s passion for reading and learning to excite and inspire rural kids on the wonders of reading. She donated most of the beautiful and educational books that she had loved reading as a child towards the project. Prof Viola Onwuliri supported with donation of the new exercise books for the event.
- Gently used books of various genre.
- New exercise books
- A wooden table on which the books were displayed
- A tablecloth to cover the wooden table and tape to attach the posters to the table.
- Poster boards displaying the sign for ‘Community Book Donation’
- Colorful and eye-catching markers
- Breakfast was provided and served by the collaborating organization.
Attendance: There were at least 50 children in attendance, ranging from the ages 3 to 16. The youngest child present had not yet started school. The eldest child was in class JSS3 (grade 9).
Reactions/Results : The children became more interested in the initiative when it was framed as a game. The kids would choose a book and then be challenged to read it. If they could not read it, they had to choose another, and the book would be given to a child who could read it. One book, a colorful Merriam-Webster dictionary with high quality pictures, was chosen by four kids and was finally won by the fifth child who pronounced five difficult words in a row. The younger kids seemed to prefer picture books and math books. The older children liked the history, science, and reading books. The books that kids of all ages were attracted to had high quality photos in common. The event was exciting because the reading challenge serves to motivate the children to develop a reading habit. Many parents encouraged the initiative and hoped it would be done again soon.
Constraints/Lessons learned: The system for book-choosing needs to be better organized, it was difficult to keep track of which book went to whom. The children were mostly crowded together around the table and attempted rushing at the books often. The event was impromptu without sufficient planning time.
Future Development: In the future, there will be a registry comprising list of all the books and a space where children will sign their names next to the book they choose. The book drive will be started early to enable a wider selection of books so that ideally, every child will be able to leave with a book they like. The donation stand will also need at least two assigned volunteers, to help Alexandra and to control the crowd of kids in addition to determining who should have which book. The standing children would be organized into several lines to avoid crowding round the table.
Conclusion: This first Rural Community Book Donation was a success because every child left happy with the book they chose. Alexandra in collaboration with ECUDOMEF will continue to improve on the administration of this event in the coming years.